Niagara Gazette — Providing disaster relief is an odd mix: the adrenalin rush of the unknown, the anxiety about spontaneous challenges and new experiences, the life-changing opportunity to be of service to people whose lives have been brutally and unfairly up-ended, the chance to meet thousands of compassionate human beings doing their best to provide basic human needs, comfort, and hope. In the end, what needs to be done is completely overwhelming and we had to take comfort in whatever we could do, no matter how small, to help.
Over the course of our 12 days together we made many trips with our truck, mostly to Long Island: Long Beach, Lido Beach, Nickerson Beach, Rockaway and Far Rockaway where the damage was devastating. Most of the homes cannot be lived in, businesses are boarded up and ruined. We passed police-monitored gas lines that were three hours long if there was even gas to be had or where people were sleeping in their cars overnight to be first in line in the morning.
Most places we drove to outside of Manhattan there were no working traffic signals and common courtesy and common sense did not exist. People were not thinking clearly. They were afraid, panicked, frustrated and angry. There were curfews and for good reason. There had been looting.
The convoys of power company trucks were amazing and so encouraging until we saw the work that needed to be done. Every breaker box and outlet had to be cleaned, repaired and inspected before power could be turned back on. A box still dirty with salt water, if turned on, could start a fire. If a neighbor has locked their home and gone to stay with family, the whole block waits in the dark until they come back, unlock their home, and get fixed and inspected.