I HATE YOU, SANDY

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Photo by Maura Grogan Redy, Avon-By-The-Sea, N.J.

The only Sandy’s I have known in my life are intelligent, good-hearted women – like Sandy Howson, or Sandy Conti Mitchell. Neither of them has the attitude or gall of you, Hurricane Sandy. Just when we thought we’d waltz uneventfully through the hurricane season, you stepped in, unmercifully. It’s kind of insulting to give you a human name, especially one so aligned with decent people. And lest you think I’m having fun here, I better set the record straight — I’m dead serious. I hate you, Sandy.

Sandy smacked our friends to the south and teased us here in Fredericksburg before heading north and inland to show off her arrogant power and thoughtless disregard for human life, property, and nature’s bounty. Far worse than some obnoxious party crasher, Sandy killed people, disrupted millions of homes, destroyed countless beaches, sucked away billions of dollars in potential tourism revenues, and wreaked general havoc for nearly a quarter of the nation’s population.

My home state of New Jersey is devastated. My niece, Maura Redy, in Avon-By-The-Sea, reported on facebook the day after Sandy, simply, “Our little town (with an iconic frown face).” New York City is besieged by the volume of task ahead in the aftermath of this b#*@. Subway tunnels, buildings, and the lower Manhattan electric grid were all flipped off by this Sandy. NICU babies had to be transported in the middle of the stormy night to other hospitals. A surge of house fires destroyed part of the Rockaway community dear to my brother-in-law Jim Corry, who grew up guarding its beaches as a young Irish lad.

Friends and family in every coastal state north of us reported either relief or horror at what they saw had happened in their communities. Here in Fredericksburg, we can only be thankful that it wasn’t worse. The damages were minimal here; the power outages confined and brief. We are hopeful that the homeless all made it to safe harbor. But when we think outside of our Burg, there is cause to pause and pray for the victims of this nasty, gargantuan beast inaccurately named Sandy.

What may be a countless number of victims in terms of fears and actual losses is too haunting to grasp. Billions upon billions of dollars in damages and potential losses now stare the Mid-Atlantic States squarely in the face. To recover will require gritty leadership at every level. In the wake of Sandy, we are tempted to equate her wrath with that of 9-11.  She, being a storm, is exempt from the negative human attribute of evil (but are We not evil if we fail to come to grips with our human role in climate change?).  Yet, our recovery from her will require the same commitment shown when we countered the evil of terrorism on that sunny September day in 2001.

But we will. As New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie both said, “We will. We always do.” We always stand strong and recover. We, as a nation, always come back. Sometimes Uncle Sam may feel like Rocky Balboa, absorbing punch after bloody punch before knocking out his opponent, but in the end, he gets the job done.

We can do our part in all the usual ways. We know the drill. And we all can pray. It’s our way of doing things. And it works. November is an odd month to be lamenting loss, so we need to turn it around, get out and vote on Election Day – for those who still can; gather at your local Veteran’s Memorial on Nov. 11 or 12 to salute our fallen; and, above all, give thanks for our blessings, our friends, our families, and for those brave people up the coast from us.

Happy Thanksgiving. Be safe. Be kind. Be giving.

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