Wednesday, November 7, 2012

It’s Not Time to Return to Normal: A Personal Account of Sandy’s Aftermath

Posted By on Wed, Nov 7, 2012 at 10:08 AM

Page 4 of 4

Eszter Tsvangs in-laws backyard. Once full of towering trees, now there is nothing to see but sky.
  • Eszter Tsvang's in-laws' backyard. Once full of towering trees, now there is nothing to see but sky.

Today, it’s supposed to be a lot colder. My husband’s parents got lucky that they found shelter through relatives, but I know not everyone is that lucky. Some people didn’t just get their first floor flooded; some people had their entire house washed away. Luckily, Sandy did not damage my bosses’ homes—though they still don’t have power as far as I know—but their store is now part of the Coney Island beach. I’m happy to be back in school, but maybe, it’s not time to return to normalcy just yet. For some people—like the woman on Staten Island who lost her two children in the water and found their bodies on the shore—it’s never going to be normal.

As an immigrant myself, I think it’s engraved in me to expect the worst and to want to get up after falling down as quickly as possible. Some people don’t have that instinct yet; some people are just learning that now. I think what I have found most surprising is how positively people have reacted to the hurricane and its aftermath. Everyone jumped to donate clothes. Everyone is volunteering to help those who need it. At the same time, with such short time before the elections, I’ve also seen people politicize a natural disaster down to the nitty-gritty of race and class. This hurricane did not discriminate against areas of poor people. In fact, Breezy Point, Seagate, the Rockaways, and some of the other areas that have been affected are all neighborhoods full of wealthy people. Does that make them any more deserving of this? Does that mean that they’ll recover from this more quickly? Not in my opinion. All these neighborhoods have been equally destroyed and equally helped or ignored—depending on what your stance on the situation is. At the same time, some people are helping a lot but want to make sure you know they’re helping a lot. “Occupy Sandy Relief” is taking pride in their relief efforts as being better than those of FEMA or other government agencies. To me, that seems silly. This shouldn’t be about who does more but about who is doing something. The sooner we realize this, the sooner we can get back to normal, or something resembling it.

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Eszter Tsvang

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