My wife and I took the warnings about Hurricane Sandy very seriously. We anticipated that we would lose electricity. We filled bathtubs with water since no electricity meant no well water and thus no showers or toilet flushes. We "battened down the hatches" with a seriousness of purpose.
Then we waited -- but not for long. At about 3:45 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 29, we lost power. Outside there was barely a breeze and no rain. Okay, how long can it last? We now all know the answer: A long time and still continuing for some in Connecticut and the tri-state area. For us "a long time" ended eight days later. We were extremely fortunate: No injuries, no damage to the house, no fallen trees in the yard.
Story over? Definitely not.
What I experienced in just eight days without power or water gave me a first-hand appreciation of what too many people suffer for months at a time: I was cold, dirty, sick, and by the fifth or sixth day, terribly weary. And I didn't have to walk down and then up uncountable flights of stairs to get basic staples. I was physically able to take care of myself and my family. I didn't have water in my basement or holes in my roof. I had mobility (no need for subways or buses) and could stay overnight in a hotel to get warm, clean and have a good meal. My hometown fire department in Westport provided clean water 24/7 for me and all town residents in need.
From my own Sandy experience, I must remember to stay aware of the plight of those for whom the absence of basic housing, food and clothing is a daily experience. I will answer requests for contributions from organizations providing these basic needs with increased generosity. When I decide how much to contribute, I will remember how cold, dirty and weary I became in only eight days. I will remember to be thankful and proud of the way our emergency responders worked tirelessly to restore power, evacuate those in need, promptly deal with emergencies and provide constant updates, which many of us listened to on battery-operated radios. In particular I will remember the comforting Code Red telephone phone calls from Gordon Joseloff and the twice daily reports (delivered with both seriousness and humor) by Inspector Gibbons -- stars in our powerless world.