Posted on November 23, 2012
“Are you with the news?” a young man asked me as I took photos of the volunteers in action. “No, I’m from Staten Island and I want to document what’s going on here and share it on my blog.” “Good, because It’s becoming old news, and when it makes the paper I think people are wrapping fish in it,” he told me, referring to what he views as a decline in news coverage and apparent lack of interest by those not directly affected by the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy. Last Saturday, November 17th, almost three weeks since the storm made landfall here on Staten Island and here in Midland Beach, it is hard to turn your head in any direction without seeing something that makes you take a deep breath. I think back to all the times I have driven down Midland Avenue as a teenager, making my way to the beach at night to meetup with friends and hangout usually until the cops would come and make us leave. A woman has a massage chair setup with a sign attached to it that reads “Spa Sandy”. I watch as she approaches a volunteer and asks them “Would you like a quick massage?” They smile and politely decline. “Come on, five minutes!” She says, in a mom-like fashion. The volunteer agrees to it but has to finish a task first. “Is it tough getting people to relax for a moment?” I ask her. “They just keep going and they don’t realize that they haven’t had a break.” She tells me how important it is to feel the touch of another caring person and I realize that just as I can look in any direction and see devastation caused by the hurricane, I also see people everywhere helping each other. Volunteers delivering and dispersing meals, people sorting piles of clothing, handing out cleaning supplies, helping in any way that they can. Perhaps news coverage of the relief efforts and rebuilding is tapering off, but since the hurricane hit I have been so inspired to see just how many groups have formed utilizing social media to organize and communicate their plans and needs. Every person I spoke with that day gave me the impression that there was no place they’d rather be but right there amongst all the other people doing whatever they could to lend a hand to those in need in the community.