Sunday, November 4, 2012 – We find ourselves sandwiched between a hurricane and a major election. I’m supposed to be running a marathon right now . While my family was thankfully spared any major Sandy damage, it has felt weird to me to return to normal life knowing that so many areas, including the many parts of the Jersey Shore completely destroyed, have so many people suffering.
So this post might be all over the place. First, there are a lot of ways you can help.
This page started out as a call for the NYC Marathon to be cancelled and has turned into a resource for information on helping the people of New York And New Jersey. Times are tough for a lot of people, but if you can even spare $10 to the Community Food Bank of New Jersey or Red Cross, you’re helping and more importantly reminding these people they won’t be forgotten about. I am seeing lots of fundraisers for NYC; please don’t forget that New Jersey was hit just as hard but might not be as visible as the Big Apple. In the days ahead I hope to come up with a fundraising idea for the NY/NY area, so stay tuned.
Even people who didn’t lose their homes or power lost access to food this week. Below is a scene from the Stop & Shop in my hometown. No dairy, no meat, no vegetables, no frozen food, a $40 limit on cash back, security to deter looting; it was like nothing I had ever seen before.
Before the storm, I was nervous. I’m a worrier, so we prepared for the worst.
On Monday, the day Sandy was to arrive, my husband went to work as always, and I tried to work, only to be distracted by news that Sandy would make landfall in NJ where most of my family lives. As the day went on, we realized Sandy wouldn’t be too bad for us, but glued to the TV, my worries for my home state grew. By the time we were heading to bed on Monday night, I couldn’t stop reading tweets about New Jersey and New York City, watching Con Ed transformers explode, subways flood, and the shore battered. I don’t think I fell asleep.
Tuesday morning, I got up dying to call my family. With my mom sick, I didn’t want to call at 7 am so I waited. I tried to call my sister, and house and cell went straight to voicemail.
A few phone calls and texts assured me that my family was okay. My sister was without power for five days. A massive tree in my mother’s yard, one we planted when we were young, was uprooted. As you can see below, the neighborhood stray cats all somehow arrived the morning after the hurricane for their breakfast. We were sad about the tree. It was only when I got home that I realized just how huge it is, maybe 40 feet tall, and how if it had fallen the other way it would have landed right on my mom’s bedroom. We were lucky.
I started to wonder about the New York City Marathon. The devastation, to me, seemed too extreme to logistically hold a world class event in less than a week. I started reading the New York Road Runners’ Facebook page for information and kind of became addicted to checking in.
With transportation down, I started to think about how I would get to the marathon expo to get my race materials and how I would get to the race, considering the Staten Island ferry was down. I was uneasy about the whole thing, but it was when I saw the burned out neighborhood in Breezy Point that the whole thing started to feel wrong. When I heard Wednesday morning that there were still many missing in Staten Island near the race start, people who likely hadn’t survived, I logged into my NYC Marathon profile, and I hit cancel.
I kept my plans to fly to New Jersey, and though there was a delay, it was completely seamless thanks to the power of JetBlue social media. (I’ll cover that in a separate post.)
Seeing the gas lines stretching for miles, people lined up with gas cans by the hundreds, police guarding to make sure fights didn’t break out, woke me up to the new normal people in this region are facing indefinitely. Downed trees and wires and entire towns in the dark were a wake up call, but the fact that almost everything, including grocery stores and restaurants, was closed showed just how easily Mother Nature can turn life upside down.
It was after I arrived in New Jersey and after lots of reading, TV watching, and obsessing over the NYRR Facebook page that I was able to be 100% okay with my decision to defer my marathon entry.
The NYRR was absolutely atrocious over the past eight days. The organization, which sent me an email almost every day since I registered for the marathon, went silent this week. They ignored thousands of Facebook posts and tweets, people who had the opportunity to cancel their trips on Tuesday and Wednesday and to save thousands of dollars. No one had a clue what was going on.
Instead, Mayor Bloomberg and NYRR CEO Mary Wittenberg arrogantly and cavalierly went ahead with plans, leaving runners with a tough choice, breaking the hearts of those who could not physically make it, leading people on for days before finally blaming pressure from the media when they made a last minute cancellation on Friday night. By the way, most people found out via rumor or other news, not from the New York Road Runners.
Rumor has it (because the NYRR can’t seem to confirm anything) that registered runners this year will have guaranteed entry next year but will have to pay the race entry fee of around $300 again. I’m not sure I even want to participate after what I saw from them this week.
Instead of running a marathon today, we’re going to collect non-perishable food, water, and other needed items to bring to a drop-off center in my sister’s town. They’re collecting donations, showing football, and serving food to those still living without power. I might make fun of my home state every now and then, but its people certainly do come together to help one another.
The last nine days have frazzled my nerves, left us with little sleep, and with a major need for stillness. They have been filled with so many emotions; worry, fear, relief, gratefulness, and sorrow, but they actually started with a ton of happiness for me. . . a new job!
I haven’t felt like celebrating so it hasn’t even felt quite real, but last Friday I accepted an exciting role at a Boston advertising agency as Public Relations and Social Media Manager working with a client in the travel and tourism industry. I will be starting when we return from Ireland. Who knew that participating in a blogger wine and cheese tour would end up in a great new work opportunity? I am certainly glad that I went that day! I’ll continue doing work with my own company, Pop! Marketing Communications as well so busy days are ahead.
Do you have any family or friends in the areas affected by Sandy? If I can help them, please let me know!