I got to experience Super storm Sandy on Long Island at my parents home and in NYC during the aftermath. It was certainly an incredible experience being without power in lower Manhattan. It was as if there were 2 separate cities. The uptown part of Manhattan was bustling and very busy while lower Manhattan was practically empty and after 8 PM became completely pitch black and empty.
What was really appalling was the line of Taxi Cabs that I saw waiting for gas on 11th Avenue at 11:30 PM, 3 days after the hurricane. And for weeks after there were lines at all Gas Stations. Some had even run out of gas. Prices reached around $5/gallon and even more.
I ended up playing piano in Union Square, 2 days after the Super Storm hit us and it was definitely something to remember. Below are 10 things that I learned from experiencing Super Storm Sandy in New York.
1. The Northeast is very much at risk of Hurricanes and Natural disasters. I never thought this was true until Hurricane Sandy hit us. In the last 3 years we have had 3 major storms tear through the Northeast United States. This is only just the beginning. Something like Sandy could hit us again and it could be worse next time.
2. Always have an Emergency Plan. It is essential no matter where you live to be prepared for any type of emergency and to have multiple options. When the emergency comes, it comes very quick, leaving you with little time to get your life together. Plan Safety routes, food options, Gasoline, Transportation, gathering of essential items.
3. Arrange a safe house or a friends home within 50 miles of your home in case you have to evacuate and stay somewhere else for a few days. Also make sure that safe house has plenty of food and supplies.
4. Watching people wait on 5 hour lines for gasoline made me realize how important it is to learn how to be independent of material goods. This is much easier said than done, but if it is possible, learn ways to become independent of gasoline companies and supermarkets. If you can find a way to do that, you have battled half the mess. Cell phones are another big one that most people cant live without. One way to be independent is to plant your own garden or grow some vegetables at home. It takes minimal time to set up and can be very rewarding.
5. Traveling and living out of my van has prepared me more for events like this. I call it un-spoiling the self. If you have never tried to survive with very few material goods and money you may be missing some important lessons everyone needs to learn. Learning to live a life of simplicity is incredibly freeing. When you have a basement filled with objects and possessions, you are tied down and your object end up owning you. What if everything you knew disappeared tomorrow? Would you be prepared?
“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” — Cesare Pavese
6. Its better to be over-prepared than under prepared. My family wasn't as prepared as we should have been for this mess. We were out of power for a week and without a fridge we were dependent on a cooler with only a small bag of ice. Make a list of essentials that you would need for another hurricane and keep it on the side for any kind of emergency possible. Be prepared for the worst. Hope for the best.
7. The ability to leave everything behind and start anew is a FREEDOM in itself. If you have too many responsibilities in the city that has recently been destroyed, you will be trapped. This is another idea that is all too difficult to achieve, especially when you have an important position at a company.
8. Never panic. There is no room for it and worrying about things only gets in your way. Instead, focus directly on the solutions and options on getting you out of the problem. Bickering and Argument only brings you back a few steps. I believe that with a positive mind and focus on solutions, you can get yourself out of problems do occur but things usually end up working out.
John Lennon - "There are no problems, only solutions."
9. We're all in this together. Sandy didnt just affect those who were poor but also those who are wealthy as well. She certainly did not take any exceptions. Walking through the churches and seeing the lines of people waiting for food and clothing made me realize that in the end, we are all in this together. Planet Earth is our home and its time that we respect her for the beauty that she is and the blessing that she gives to us.
10. When you lose everything you own you begin to realize what truly matters in life. When i volunteered in Far Rockaway, New York I saw people who were literally removing everything from their home to be thrown away. These people were totally distraught from the destruction and the new reality they faced. But what can you do? Looking at the past wont get you very far. Its deeper than money and material things and it all boils down to the people in your life, how you treat them, and how you treat the world around you.