What I learned from Sandy

I learned a lot over the past week. We have been through Hurricanes before and we will go through more as time goes by, but this one was the first that caused a level of devastation that we had never seen. Here are a few thoughts (in no particular order) now that I have had some time to think about the past week.

  1. We take electricity for granted. There are many times I have told my children how they take things for granted. How they have things that we never dreamed we would have when we were their age. Our children’s lives are easier than ours in the same way our lives as children was easier than our parents’. One of the few things that we ALL take for granted is electricity and other major utilities. We have had power outages in the past, and in the 1999 we even went two days without power. During Sandy we were without power for almost a whole week and I know that there are other people out there that are still without. We love having electricity flow through out homes and into our ipads, Wiis and laptop computers. The truth is though, that most of us have very little understanding on how it works and how it gets to us. I think that we all need to take an opportunity to not only learn a little about this “magical” energy that powers all of our devices, but to get an understanding of where it comes from and to be more respectful of it. Electricity does not just exist like water and air. It has to be generated and need to be mindful of this at all times. Perhaps one of the best parts of being an observant Jew is that we are more in tune with energy that most of the population. We spend 25 hours of each week with our powered life shut down, but even so, we are still out of tune with the bigger picture and even a few hours of no power during the week becomes a burden. So I think we should teach our children about how energy works and make them aware of where it comes from.


  2. Relocating is difficult. After two days of no power we moved into my in-laws house which is around the corner from ours. Over the years we have seen areas that are devastated by natural disaster and people are relocated. It always happens to “other people” and while we fee for them and perhaps donate money or goods to them, we don’t really understand. In truth, we were able to move in with my in-laws and don’t fully understand either. But the act of having to pick up and leave your home because it has become un-livable is hard not only from the standpoint of packing and physically moving, but from knowing that your home, what you have spent years building up is now unusable. Some in our neighborhood stayed in their homes. I wonder if they did this not because they had no place else to go (there were lots of people with power offering to house others) but because they just did not want to leave their homes. Luckily in our community there were a few places to go to get warm. Our Synagogue opened its doors to the community and many people took advantage of the heat, coffee and internet.


  3. Crisis brings out the best in people. Everywhere people were opening up their homes, their wallets, their pantries and their freezers to help people in town who were without. Of course on the news you see stories about large relief efforts, but you really need look no further than your own home town. As soon as power came back to our Synagogue, the doors were open to the entire community. The same is true for the Reformed Church and one of the Orthodox Synagogues in town. Everyone was there to lend a helping hand. There were Christians, Orthodox Jews and Muslims in my Synagogue over the past week coming together to help help each other in a time of need. If that does not inspire us all to do more, I don’t know what will.


  4. Crisis brings out the worst in people. Once people were able to go out and purchase gasoline, the prices generally rose at least 30 cents per gallon. There were some honest gas stations where prices were at the same rate they were before the storm, but it seems quite widespread that the prices went up too high. There is a law in NJ that states during a state emergency, merchants cannot raise prices more than 10% more than the price would be if there were not an emergency. The NJ Department of Consumer Affairs got hundreds of complaints over the past week about price gauging and the Governor has stated that they will find and fine everyone who broke this law. If ever there was a time to practice decency and help others, this was it, and many merchants failed miserably.


  5. D Cell batteries are still important (thanks to Alisa Berg for that one).


  6. You don’t really need to purchase tons of milk and bread before a hurricane.


  7. Finally, my disaster of a garage that I prayed to fall down, will probably survive a direct hit from a cruise missile.


I hope everyone is safe and warm!

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