For the past week, we here in NYC have been reeling in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. As displaced and devastated residents try to rebuild their lives, the stories we hear on the news run the gamut from hopeful to horrific.
For starters, death is here. The stories abound, but the one that grabs my heart the most is that of a mother, trying to evacuate, and holding tightly to her two children. A wave surges through and rips the children from her arms, leaving them to get swept away in the current and eventually drown.
Devastation is here. Houses have turned to rubble. Cars have been totaled. Landmarks have been damaged. Everywhere you look, someone else has lost everything.
Of the survivors, a lack of dignity is present. Schools have been turned into emergency shelters, and in the three days that school was called off, conditions have deteriorated. In one school, marijuana was getting smoked outside. Inside, people were drinking. There was human feces under the cafeteria tables, and someone sent in a cell phone video showing a man using a water fountain as a urinal. The bathrooms were out of order due to people trying to flush clothing down toilets. I remember high school. High school students are not the cleanest or most hygienic of people, but these were adults who caused these problems. That was as of Saturday, with school expected to reopen Monday. Children were expected to walk into these conditions and be able to learn. Upon realizing how filthy it was, the city closed school shelters longer.
To kick people while they’re down, looters and thieves are here. Neighborhoods without lights find themselves severely lacking in security, and it is taking its toll. Business owners returned to work to find cash registers robbed, and displaced homeowners, going back during the day to assess damage and clean up, have watched their belongings dwindle.
For those not devastated, panic is here. As people’s food starts to spoil from lack of power, and supplies run low, people in affected areas begin to realize that as much as their homes and neighborhoods have been damage, so have their neighborhood grocery stores. Supplies are needed, with no way to buy more. Seemingly less pressing, but just as concerning, is the gas crisis. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but when 6.5 million are out of power and the weather is turning cooler, there are a lot of generators running. By a lot I mean a whole lot. When the transportation system is shut down on a city where the majority of commuters use subways and commuter rail to get to and from work, the added demand on busses, taxis, cars and car services is a lot. A whole lot. This sounds all well and good, but what’s the bottom denominator? Gasoline. Or lack thereof. Gas deliveries came from the NYC ports. Flooded and damaged, those ports were closed. Meanwhile the demand for gas skyrocketed as it was the only fuel to keep generators and vehicles running. And sure enough, stations ran out. People were camping out in their cars, waiting for gas to come through. There was none to be had in NYC. One week later, things are beginning to ease up, but when a delivery does come through, the line is hours long, and it’s a matter of hours before the station runs out again. With no gasoline to be had, people have had to start missing work. Missing work = missing pay, which is a difficult combination during a time that requires so much rebuilding.
So with all this darkness, and all this devastation, where is God?
Well, I’m happy to report something. God is here. God is why the waters receded. God is why ‘this too shall pass’. God is the One getting help, relief, donations, and workers into the hardest-hit areas. God is the one who made the remaining supplies last. God is the reason why for every bad story we hear, there’s a good. God is in the 65-yr-old woman who spent an entire day lugging a huuuge water bucket from an opened fire hydrant up the stairs of her high-rise building to deliver drinking water to her neighbors. Why? They were mostly elderly, and she was able-bodied. God gave her strength that day. God is in the man who, in the midst of the storm, tethered himself to a fence and swam neighbors across the street so they could get to safety while his house collapsed around him. God is why this city is coming together and rebuilding again. God is love, and God is here.
God is worthy of our praise, because despite 2 days worth of storm, we have so many days of sunshine. In the wake of this disaster, He is moving powerfully in people’s hearts. Thanks for all prayers so far, and please keep them coming!