Sunday, November 4, 2012

Back to Normal?

H: November 4, 2012: I've written pages and pages of observations and my experiences these past 6 days since Hurricane Sandy struck. But they will remain on the loose scraps of paper I've scrawled on—most are just the ramblings of an emotional flygirl in crisis. I've always maintained that this blog should be first and foremost about fly fishing. Those who find their way here are interested in fish tales, not social commentary or politics. There are more compelling stories out there being told by more qualified and superior writers. But I can't leave it alone... So, please bear with me.

I am one of the fortunate ones. I lost power for just 2 days. My home and property are intact. But more importantly, my family and friends are all well. Some suffered more than others, but they're surviving and getting on with their lives. Sandy's aftermath has been an inspirational reminder of our resiliency and has done much to restore my faith in human nature.

I stopped by my parents place the day after and watched as my mom busied herself trying to cook a good hot meal for my dad and I. As the perpetual caregiver, that's just how she copes with crisis—planning the next meal, being resourceful, wondering how long before power is restored and how many days she can stretch out her pantry. As we ate, she and my dad talked about how things were like during the Korean War…

Afterwards, inspired by easterncaster, I went to my local park to cast for a bit. I know, that sounds crazy. I guess it was an act of defiance (or denial) to prove that things were not that far from normal. The usually crowded park with baseball and soccer fields, basketball and tennis courts was deserted except for me and 3 guys tossing a football around. I guess they too craved a moment of normalcy. It was still very gusty but I couldn't have cared less. Casting my fly rod felt great!

These past several days, I've watched Sandy bring out the best and worst in people. I won't soon forget the story of a Staten Island mom desperately holding on to her 2 young boys for dear life, screaming out for help, breaking a window to get the attention of a nearby resident, imploring him to let her in, and having her cries fall on deaf ears. I understand that in the chaos of the storm, the safety of one's own family comes first, but that person will have to live with this for the rest of their life. Thankfully, it's mostly been good. I've witnessed communities come together—people opening up their homes to friends and even strangers in need, offering food, shelter, generators to charge their phones, and much needed comfort.

While things appear to be slowly getting back to normal, there are still millions without power, tens of thousands without homes, the death toll continues to rise, 100+, and it's starting to get cold. When Mayor Bloomberg first announced that the NYC Marathon would go on, I was shocked but ambivalent. I imagine Bloomberg and his advisors weighed the pros and cons of proceeding with the race and made a business decision coupled with a desire to restore normalcy to the city. But when I learned the extent of the devastation in Staten Island, the starting point of the Marathon, I was furious. Thankfully he reversed his decision and cancelled the race. If he hadn't, I would have hit the streets in protests, seriously! And I haven't done that since my college days. To divert scarce resources and manpower to operate a sporting event, regardless of the revenue it generates for the city, is unconscionable!

But the show does go on. The Knicks had their home opener at the Garden. The Nets opened the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Tomorrow, the majority of NYC schools will reopen. 80 percent of NYC subways are operational. More importantly, in 2 days time, we will have a critical presidential election. To those who are still without power, who have lost their homes, the responsibility of voting is naturally secondary to providing food and shelter for their families. But even the remotest possibility of NY or NJ's electoral votes being won by Romney is frightening and may prove more catastrophic than the damage wrought by Hurricane Sandy.

I implore everyone to make a concerted effort to vote on Tuesday. Governor Christie is allowing displaced citizens of NJ to vote electronically via email or fax. How worse off would the residents of NY/NJ be right now if Mitt Romney was in office and had dismantled FEMA and privatized disaster relief? Surely, a "Mayor Romney" would have let the Marathon go on. I'm not even going to get into all the falsehoods and half-truths he has spoken, that's sadly a reality of political campaigning. But the fact that Romney seems to change his position as quickly and as frequently as the winds and tides change is a clear measure of his character (or lack thereof), one based on expediency rather than principle.

I confess, I've been disappointed with the job that President Obama has done these past 4 years. But those hoping a vote for Romney will bring about positive change are misguided. A vote for Romney is a vote for another Bush, albeit more articulate and polished. It's a vote for the same ideology that got us into this mess in the first place, an ideology based on greed and profits at all costs including the environment and the 47 percent. It will endanger all manner of civil rights including a women's right to choose. This election is critical… Please vote!

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