Deb Amy Rethinks Fear In The Wake Of Superstorm Sandy

I’m near Chicago and Hurricane Sandy brought us one one much-windier-than-the-usual-windiness kind of day, while some of my friends and family on the East Coast are still without power — and it’s Friday! Some have suffered damage to their homes, and all have sustained a blow to their spirits.

In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, many have revised their definition of fear. I know I have. Frankly, once everyone has power, internet, and a few hot meals and showers behind them, I’m afraid how the nincompoops are going to fare. You know — the ones who are bragging on Facebook about gym workouts when their neighbors are still without power. I’m worried about the people who tah-dahed when the lights came back on in their house, without offering help to others in need of a charge, or a hot cup of coffee. I’m really afraid for the folks who chimed in with “hang in there” or “keep your chin up” to someone who has had to entertain toddlers, or who had not showered, since Monday.

You keep your chin up, bucko, after sixty-seven games of Hi-Ho Cherry-O, then you text me with seven thousand exclamation marks. I dare you. 

I think that when bad things happen to someone else, it’s time to take stock and to wear their fears as our own, especially in the social media realm. I know that most of the country was untouched by the storm. I had to turn on the weather channel to see what was happening in the New Jersey shore towns where I spent my childhood, and to see photos of places where I grew up and still hold dear. I had to wait for friends to get cell service so they could post photos of their lanterns and candles and their uprooted trees.  And I hope that I tred lightly enough to not offend anyone when I shared some good news. It was a precarious week to be happy.

It’s true, though. Life — and lights — go on all around us, no matter what.  But remembering to be thoughtful, to use our words wisely, is a good thing. And I know that it’s valued by the people who are still assessing the cost of repairs, and still juggling their children toward a weekend that won’t feel like one.

So if you head to the gym during a hurricane, just keep it to yourself. At least on Facebook. Or comments you get? Those might really be the storm you didn’t see coming.

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18 Replies to “Deb Amy Rethinks Fear In The Wake Of Superstorm Sandy”

  1. I love this, Amy: “It’s true, though. Life — and lights — go on all around us, no matter what. But remembering to be thoughtful, to use our words wisely, is a good thing.”

    We only had a power outage for 16 hours (we were on the northern fringe of Sandy, in Maine), but I bit my nails to the quick worrying about my daughter right in Sandy’s path in Philly (thank goodness she’s okay), and I watched with my son and girlfriend (who were with us here in Maine) but nervously fearing for their NYC apartment and many friends there… and I have to say, I felt/feel incredibly helpless and wish I could/can do something to help beyond offering a listening ear… but at the very least I can be thoughtful and use my words wisely.

    1. Thanks, Julia. With a post like this, I couldn’t be sure anyone would get it! 🙂 Most of all I’m glad you and your family are ok!

  2. We live in Hurricane Alley on the coast of North Carolina, but this storm hit those north of us with a much greater ferocity. I suppose it’s human nature to be grateful when spared, but I agree that we ought to remember that there but for the grace of God go we. And when the storms hit us, we’ll want the sympathy of others as well as the hands outstretched to offer help. Carrying each other’s burden, easing each other’s fear: that’s what we ought to be doing, to the best of our ability. I love the photograph someone posted on Facebook of a house sharing electricity–at least to charge cell phones–with the neighborhood.

    Thank you, Amy, for the reminder.

    1. Normandie, thank you! I had some people close to me really hurt by insensitive comments of others, and I just didn’t get it. Happy dances can be done in private. I know there are many, many people who shared and cared. I do think that’s the norm, but it was the other that just really got to me (as you can tell)!


  3. A thoughtful post, from the heart. I understand what you are saying here, and at the same time wonder if I am the sort of person who offends. I was dancing – publicly – about getting my ARCs while people were battening down for the hurricane. Not because I didn’t care about those in the path of the storm, but because that’s what I do. In my world. If there is good news – it gets celebrated. Even if, and especially if, the tragedy is affecting me and mine. Light as a balance to the darkness, I guess.

    1. I celebrate too, Kerry. Absolutely! But, I temper it in the face of others’ misfortune. Or at least I think I do. Did. I tried to balance normal with everything else that was going on far from me. I figured the least I could do is not make someone feel worse! I certainly didn’t complain about the howling winds that kept me awake, that’s for sure! 😉

  4. Thanks for this, Amy. We are right on the storm’s path, and still without some services that make life easier. My two-year-old has been having a blast despite this, hanging out with family and friends. It’s so easy to let the small inconveniences get to you — and then you see the photos of those devastated shore towns where so many memories were made, or the Staten Island mother who lost both of her boys, and it really gives some perspective. It reminded me to be grateful for what I have that’s truly important.

  5. Amy, this post resonates so deeply with me–I continue to ache for those who are struggling in the wake of this storm. And I frankly don’t even feel right posting about ANYTHING but that sentiment–as you say, the moment-to-moment struggles, we can’t imagine.

    Thanks for such a thoughtful post, my dear.

    1. I know what you mean, Erika. It’s not like I want to be there, but there’s almost guilt for not being there to lend a hand.

  6. Agree with this — and also with what Kerry said (“Light as balance to the darkness”). I definitely let people on Twitter know when I had my power back, but those are people I know mainly in the virtual sense; I didn’t post on Facebook. There’s definitely a fine line between letting people know you’re okay and bragging. Generally, I think friends do want to know that you’re okay.

    I also had a moment, when we were without power, of realizing that although my situation was inconvenient and somewhat uncomfortable, millions of people around the globe LIVE without power every day. How could I, in good conscience, complain about not being able to open my refrigerator or power my iPhone, when so many poor people subsist on virtually nothing? Hopefully this experience will increase the empathy people have for those living with far less.

  7. A thoughtful post, and I do hear what you’re saying. Nobody should be “nyah-nyah-in-your-face” gloating when fortune spares them–that’s rude, and downright mean besides. OTOH, I think sharing that you and yours are okay is a good thing if it helps others not to worry about you. 🙂

  8. Great post Amy. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about, calling, praying for and talking with friends impacted by the storm, and I think it’s been a tremendously scary week for anyone who felt Sandy personally or had relatives or friends in danger. Treating the situation lightly is both insensitive and inappropriate – and I’m glad you gave us all of this to think about today.

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