The Haves And The Have-Nots

Forget The Coffee, Give Me The WiFi

I received an email from my friend Leslie Alter very early this morning, 5:47am to be exact. I read it about 6:30am. It woke me up to a whole new way of thinking about Hurricane Sandy.

Leslie said,

“I think I have post traumatic shock stress something or other… too much for my head to handle… the nightmares keep coming but at least we’re okay… and glad you are okay!… it’s not just twitter for instant news… it’s Facebook too…. I think my sister who hasn’t had power for several days is better off not seeing the devastation…. looks like a war zone in places.”

I felt the same way, but she expressed it so well. I feel like everyone in the Northeast of the United States is living a nightmare. We are so lucky that we have electricity. We have a steady stream of visitors who want to use our facilities to clean up, take showers, charge their electronics, warm up, exchange stories, and do some of their work.

Many of the people who have come by have not had much communication with the outside world, so they know little about Breezy Point, Queens, Lower Manhattan, Long Beach, LI, and the Jersey Shore. They only know that their own little world doesn’t have electricity and water. Leslie is right, maybe they are better off. Watching all the devastation on TV makes me wonder how much bad news can one person take?

Governor’s Cuomo and Christie claim NY area folks are tough. The truth is that all Americans are tough if they know there is hope. Fortunately, this time there is a lot of hope even though it seems far away from now. My friend Ben was hit twice. A tree fell right through his cathedral ceiling in NJ. He was sitting in his dark house just inches away. He also recently learned that his Jersey Shore house was swept away. Friends from Long Beach, LI, watched helplessly as their house filled with water and collapsed. My cousin’s entire basement in Oceanside, LI, is filled with water which seeped into the first floor of his house. He found his speedboat, which was stored for the winter in a boatyard, five blocks from where it was tied up. My nephew in the Financial District, climbs up and down 14 flights of stairs several times a day to walk his dog. Another friend from Westchester, is stuck in his house until he gets help removing the tree and debris in front of his front door and driveway.

Everyone has a story! The interesting thing is that digital equipment has become the common denominator. I haven’t had a conversation where someone hasn’t underscored the status of their smartphone, tablet or computer. We have reached a time in the world that people can cope much better if they are connected.

Today, everyone finds a way to charge and connect. A downtown Starbucks was closed, but their wifi was still being accessed by hundreds who sat just outside the front door.

Check out the photos below taken by my friends Ruth and Howard Greenberg in a mall in Bergen County, NJ.