I don’t need to watch the news to know what is happening. Those stories don’t tell the truth, or the whole truth, anyway.
They show long lines of cars getting gas, homes submerged or destroyed, the obligatory person in hysterics pleading to the camera for help.
But, that isn’t the story.
The story is the couple in Hell’s Kitchen who housed the couple from a powerless, water-less 27th floor apartment in Lower Manhattan – having connected through a Facebook friend in Michigan.
The story is the nurses, doctors, aids and other hospital staff who kept people alive and eventually helped them move to a better location – without taking the time to deal with their own issues at home.
The story is the neighbors in boats, both real and makeshift, helping others out of their homes, and a mom handing another parent, one of her last diapers.
The story is the hundreds of thousands across the country and world, lining up to donate and post their support.
The story is all those adults and youth, who will take a week to help rebuild, doing a bit of labor, but mostly being a reminder for those who have lost their homes and businesses, that “people out there” remember them.
The story is all those stories we will never hear, including the heart attacks, migraines, suicides, and undiagnosed PTSD that come in the weeks and months ahead.
Yet, there is the epilogue, or rather, the lack of one.
Nothing, and everything, will be the same. Some people will be scattered across the country, trying to make due in a new place, never to return. Others will return a week or month later to their regular schedule, only periodically inconvenienced by long lines for empty store shelves, with a great story to share over drinks with tourists later on.
But, things are different this time. People were ready. They had their dry run a few years back. The politicians will do anything to not relive that mess, the police have a better idea of what to do. Instead of stopping locals with boats trying save the stranded, neighbors were told to help neighbors long before the winds hit the shore.
There will still be those thinking they deserved more money, more help. There will still be the people breaking into evacuated homes, taking what little remains valuable and not ruined. There will still be friends and relatives unable to see the inexpressible pain inside.
Yet, I haven’t seen anyone stranded for days in the heat on the highways. And I doubt, 7 years later, there will be so much left unfixed, and not rebuilt.
I pray that this is different. I pray that we have learned. I pray, that more people will pray, and listen, and remember.
Perhaps we have finally learned.
It is in each story, each individual life, that Sandy made landfall. Not in the news. Not in the political polls. Not in those glamorous concerts held in places safe and dry.
Sandy, the water, the wind, the rain, the sand, the mess. In the end, is a silent weight on souls.
Yet, Sandy can also be the beginning of rebirth. An opportunity to renew and rebuild not only the devastation, but lives, families and society at large.
Lord, be in the hearts and lives of all who were touched and will be touched by this storm. Help them open their souls to be transformed, opening themselves to a deeper connection with You and with others. Amen.
(For my personal take on Katrina, read Living With Katrina.)