Sandy, Survivors and my Dad

My husband’s worried. He’s worried about the victims and the destruction of Hurricane Sandy. We have family and friends in New York and New Jersey and most of them came through the hurricane without a scrape. But one of our friends lost his house, many lost power, some are still without power, and there are all those people that we don’t know, but we’re pulling for them, trying to rebuild their lives.

We see water that hasn’t receded, towns covered in sand, houses that are now debris, and we pray for these people and give what we can, because they need help and they need it now. But they already have what they need the most.

People from the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are tough. Just living in a place with so many people toughens them up. Have you ever tried to merge into traffic in New Jersey? You’ve got to have serious moxy (or some other, less PG word) to do it, and everybody there has that moxy. Ever tried to order a sandwich at a crowded New York deli? You’ve got to push to get to the front of the line, know exactly what you want and shout out to be heard. Even Connecticut, which is kind of New York lite, has its challenges. I think Connecticut people consider themselves refined, but believe me, they can be just as assertive as New Yorkers and downright pushy to boot.

People there survived 9/11. That day they lost thousands of their own. They realized that their country was vulnerable. They realized that they were vulnerable. Together, they survived a tremendous loss and will forever look at the world in a different way. I went to New York months after 9/11 and there were still “missing” posters up on every postable inch in Grand Central Station. It was a testament to the hope they still had and the devastation they felt.

And now there’s more devastation and no villain to focus on. Instead, natives will use their energy to help themselves; to help each other; and together, they will overcome.

My husband’s worried about our upcoming visit. He thinks LaGuardia won’t be operational, so we won’t be able to go. But the airport will be fine, and if it isn’t, they’ll have a solution for us, because that’s just how these people are. Nothing stops them, and nothing ever will.

And what would a discussion of New York be without input from my father? I called him yesterday and he said, surprised, “You know what I saw? People waiting on line for gas. Just like in the seventies. They were all lined up at the Seven-Eleven, just like back then.” I’m glad he “discovered” the lines, kind of puts him in touch with reality, or so I thought. “I guess they’re not getting deliveries.”

“It’s not that they’re not getting deliveries, Dad. It’s that most gas stations don’t have power so they can’t pump.”

“No, we had power in less than three days. Gas isn’t coming into the refineries. We can’t drill; we can’t have a pipeline; we can’t frack. That’s why we don’t have gas.”

“We had oil for twenty years, and they said that ten years ago,” I said, speaking as a former energy writer and lobbyist.

“We have plenty of oil. They keep saying that, but we have plenty of oil. It’s all these restrictions that keep us from having gas. You can’t drill offshore; you can’t drill on shore. Gimme a substitute. We have no substitute,” he said. I could have mentioned ethanol, electric cars, natural gas, propane or fuel cells, but I refrained.

“I saw the gas lines. They weren’t moving. They were sitting in the cars. Some for three hours, some for six hours. It’s a terrible thing what they’re doing to people.”

“Nobody’s doing anything to anyone, Dad. There was a hurricane.”

“That wasn’t so bad. If we could build a pipeline, we’d have gas.”

Thank goodness I am not his biological child. That said, I’m proud of the stock that I do come from – and proud of where I was raised.  I’m proud to count myself among these amazing people, even if I do have to live in Seattle – the capitol of coffee, Microsoft, and weird facial hair. I can’t be there with them as they rebuild, but I’m always there in spirit, and I hope that right now, you are too.

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