The Hurricane Sandy Issue

I have to level with you, I live only a stone's throw from the Hudson River on the Upper West Side of New York, but my building is high enough above the water that some of the warnings about being in an “A” evacuation zone didn’t actually pertain to us (us being my neighbors and particularly, my flatmate). We basically chose to ignore the request to evacuate. The fact that there was no demand made allowed us to feel fine about it. I must admit that several times in the post-nightfall wind drama, I had severe doubts. The sound was amazingly loud, the tree directly outside my window looked like it was in agony, and the rain was, well let me just say: wild and pounding. And yet I was snug inside my own space with food in the larder, more bottles of spring water than we needed, and tons of Glade candles in safety glass waiting to replace my electricity. We never lost power, so after I’d checked in with my son, who’s a New Yorker, my daughters who don’t live here had checked in with me, and I’d spoken to everyone whose whereabouts I needed to know, I settled in and watched Sandy wreck and/or render dark familiar (and former) neighborhoods downtown. Eventually, I lit some of the candles for atmosphere, turned off the lights, tucked myself between my covers and spent most of the night dozing off and waking to watch the latest news about Sandy, and waited to see what would happen next. The next morning allowed me to see that my neighborhood had missed the big bullets and yet my heart ached for all of those, including some friends, who had not fared so well. The President spoke to the nation and politicians proclaimed that this was a national disaster, not a time to politicize what had happened. 

Some Things to Think About and Do:
  1. Check in on your neighbors and make sure they are alright 
  2. If you need help call the appropriate agency (see sidebar) 
  3. Many of the agencies helping after the storm need financial donations
  4. Blood banks all up and down the path of Hurricane Sandy need you
  5. Do a Google search for ' Hurricane Sandy help or volunteer' to see where you can be useful
  6. Think about volunteering with a friend
  7. Be patient through the recovery and with limited service

A Note from the Dark Zone

(by Katherine Wessling, who edits this blog)

On Monday night, my lights flickered, then flickered again, then went out. They stayed out until early Saturday morning. I live in Greenwich Village, and I was lucky. The water didn’t come near my apartment building, there was no wind damage on my street, I had running water. That puts me ahead of far too many people who are still suffering terribly in the aftermath of Sandy.

For the next five days, I camped out in my apartment. I didn’t have light or heat or hot water or phone service, but I did have plenty of tinned fish and protein bars and crackers. I had frozen bowls of water in my freezer, which kept my milk from going off. I had plenty of candles, a handful of flashlights, a handy little electric lantern, and a transistor radio. I had my Chihuahua, my Dutch roommate and her boyfriend, and my neighbors to keep me company.

My neighborhood continued to thrive: the streets were full of people walking dogs and kids, chatting, escaping the antsy feelings of cabin fever. People huddled around outlets at the New York University buildings that were powered by generators, charging their electronics. One local deli was lit by a generator-powered fluorescent light; the diner on the corner served what could be cooked on a grill; a nearby stationery shop set up business on the sidewalk. Bars served drinks by candlelight.

The President Takes Charge

Our President struck the perfect tone as he delivered a major address to the nation about Hurricane Sandy. After a briefing with the heads of the appropriate agencies he moved to facilitate the rapid flow of aid to the states that suffered storm damage. He declared New Jersey, New York and Connecticut “major disaster areas.” In a conference call with reporters, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Director Craig Fugate called the president's decision to do so while the storm was in progress “extraordinary.” The declaration allowed business and home owners to apply directly for aid. He also issued "emergency declarations" for several other states that allowed FEMA to help oversee their relief efforts and make those states eligible for federal support. He warned, "This is a serious storm. We are certain that this is going to be a slow moving process...and millions of people are going to be affected." He also noted that, "The public should anticipate that there's going to be a lot of power outages" and, most importantly, that those in Sandy's path should "listen to what local officials say. When they tell you to evacuate, evacuate....Don't wait, don't hesitate." Okay, let me just say that he didn't mean me. But I’m going to vote for him. Has he done everything the way I would have wished? No. Does he walk on water? No. But then again, I am not privy to all of the information that flows to him. I don’t know what evil lurks in the hearts of certain men and women. As it is, I do my share of second guessing without a full deck. And he certainly has accomplished some major things. He has: not started any new wars, has ended one and is winding down another; killed Osama, which Bush didn’t do despite starting those wars; saved the auto industry; propped up the banks; passed a comprehensive health care program that has already made life better for many Americans. And he's done all of this despite the Tea Party (whose members must even now hate seeing his black face addressing them from the White House) and the aspirations of Mitch McConnell and his coven to make him a one term president. 

What You Can Do: 
  1. Contact the President and thank him: 
    Comments phone: 202-456-1111
    President's email:
    White House comments:
  2. Volunteer to make calls & knock on doors with

Let Them Eat Canned Goods

It’s hard to stay in the public eye when the president you are running against is going about the business of pulling his country through a major disaster. It must have been deemed inappropriate to hold a campaign rally while citizens up and down the East Coast were recovering from a devastating hurricane. So what could Romney do? There he was in Kettering, Ohio where things were all set for a Romney Rally. But then came the idea (I’m not sure who came up with it): there would be no rally! It would be a “storm relief event.” People were asked to bring canned goods to send to, hmmm... Right! The Red Cross can distribute those cans. Americans love to help, so filling up a truck at the rally--no, not rally, storm relief event--seemed like a great way for Romney to contribute to the recovery. It was a good notion, but someone should have checked the Red Cross website. They do have a program through which you can donate money so the Red Cross can purchase the appropriate foods. While holding his “not a rally” Governor Romney wouldn’t answer questions from the press about some derisive comments he had made about FEMA, which he feels should defer to the states, which it actually does. But states are cash poor, so they need FEMA.  Let me just say that I am not going to vote for Governor Romney. He still lies and is desperate enough to run an ad in Ohio showing cars being crushed, as a narrator says that Obama, "sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China. Mitt Romney will fight for every American job." In fact, Chrysler is retaining and expanding its Jeep production in North America, including in Ohio. Its profits have enabled it to consider expanding into China, the world's largest auto market. Plus the CEO of Chrysler Sergio Marchionne has responded to a series of Romney political ads by calling them, "inaccurate."  Romney doesn’t understand what it means to be the leader of the free world, because he is not familiar with the world or how it works.

Actions You Can Take:
  1. Contact the President and thank him: 
    Comments phone: 202-456-1111
    President's email:
    White House comments:
  2. Volunteer to make calls and knock on doors for the President with 
  3. Do not "not" vote even if you are not convinced about Obama. Not voting might make a statement, but will not change the system--and your statement may turn out to be one you’ll live to regret.
  4. We have some amazing rights in this country and with those rights, we have some responsibilities, so please…

The Evil Would-Be Empire

The Republican Party's Congressional leadership (left to right): Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and House Speaker John Boehner. (photo: Alex Brandon/AP)
Imagine adding Romney/Ryan to this mix. Kiss America the beautiful goodbye and welcome a lethal brew of greed, self- interest, and corporate puppeteers, with no one to challenge their supremacy. Have you seen the commercial with the Eastern European sounding senior guy who says he grew up under socialism, and moved to America to get away from it and then, without saying Obama’s name, claims that he’s voting Republican to avoid living in another socialist country? Wait until he wakes up one morning to find out that: 1) Obama is absolutely not a socialist and 2) he’s been drinking Republican Kool-Aid only to discover that most of them lie almost as easily as Romney and 3) he’s screwed!
So we should:
  1. Not let them do it 
  2. Look up their offices:  and 
  3. Write to them
  4. Call them
  5. Email them
  6. Let them know that they will have you to contend with and that you are tired of their obstructionist ways
  7. Make sure that Mitch McConnell knows you hold him accountable for being out of step with all but the far right, who represent the worst, mean-spirited, self-interested, greedy, dark aspects of the country, not the America that the world used to celebrate

A Better Way to Work

President Obama and Governor Christie spoke after their helicopter tour viewing what Sandy left in her wake along the Jersey Shore. Some refer to them as a new iteration of the odd couple. Some of you may recall that Governor Christie railed at the President in his key note address at the Republican National Convention. And yet, here they are conspiring for the good of the people. "I just want to tell all of you exactly what the president just said. I know he means it," Christie said. "I want to thank the president for coming here today. It's really important to have the president of the United States acknowledge all the suffering that's going on here in New Jersey, and I appreciate it very much. We're going to work together to make sure we get ourselves through this crisis and get everything back to normal. Thank you for coming, sir." Obama returned the praise, saying Christie had been "responsive" and "aggressive" even before "this incredible storm.... The people of New Jersey recognize that he has put his heart and soul into making sure that the people of New Jersey bounce back even stronger than before. So I just want to thank him for his extraordinary leadership and partnership." Together, the two men cut a surprising image of bipartisanship and cooperation that was what the President had hoped for when he ran for office.

Thank Them:
  1. Please tell them that what they did should be a model of how we can disagree, but get on with the business of the nation--or whatever moved you about their collaboration
  2. Contact the President and thank him: 
    Comments phone: 202-456-1111
    President's email:
    White House comments:
  3. Contact Governor Christie to thank him as well:
  4. Get your friends to do this too