Page 3 of 3
Those of us who escaped this hurricane unscathed are lucky. Descriptions of areas like Breezy Point and the Rockaways and parts of Staten Island are frequently full of the term "war zone," which is something that I don't think should ever be used thoughtlessly—this isn't Syria, after all—but is apt in the way that just as war creates senseless casualties, so too did this hurricane. The trauma of seeing your house destroyed, your life reduced to splinters and cinders, is something that I still can't comprehend. But I think it's important to try. It is essential that those of us who were lucky enough to get passed over do not forget to help those who were hit full on. We can not allow ourselves to let this story end once subway service is restored or once our favorite restaurants are back in action. This story is not about those of us who were lucky. This story is about the people who need to rebuild. And it is inhumane to write the ending for them when their stories are far from over.
It is a normal response to shy away from the misfortune of others. We think it's contagious. New York is a city where, just in order to survive, you are encouraged to be ruthless. But this is not a time for that. This is not a time for what volunteers at the Park Slope Armory—which, again, is usually a YMCA—are saying happens all the time. Apparently, Park Slopers with gym memberships are arriving in droves, not to volunteer, but to see if there's a way they can "cancel their memberships while the gym is occupied."
We are better than this. We have to be better than this. In order to really recover, and to repair what maybe needed to be fixed even before the storm, we have to be better than the people who can look across a room of refugees and ask about pro-rating their gym memberships.
Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen