Hurricane Sandy Causes People to Re-evaluate Priorities

After Storm Ravages Homes, Livelihoods, Many Take Time to Consider What is Important

Too many people have seen innumerable amounts of destruction over the past few weeks at the hands of Hurricane Sandy. She blew through our towns and took with her lives, property, hopes, and spirits. However, despite the hurt and pain she caused, I can only hope that there was an important lesson to be learned by everyone, whether they felt major effects of the storm or not.

The age old cliché tells us that we should be appreciative of the things we have because we don’t really know what we have until it is gone. Most of the time, we roll our eyes and let this piece of advice go through one ear and out the other, but it is at a time like this when truer words have never been spoken. Sandy took so much with her and left behind levels of destruction never before seen in many parts of New Jersey.

While some people lost their electricity for a mere few hours, there are much more people today still living without heat, running water, or electricity. As one of the people who only lost power for two days, I was fortunate enough to be able to go to my sister’s house with electricity. Finally being able to turn the lights on, charge my cell phone, check my email, and take a hot shower felt like the greatest gift I had ever been given. I had compared the previous two days to torture.

It was not until I finally got in front of a television and saw the real destruction left behind by the hurricane that I realized that my two days without electricity and internet were nothing when compared to other people, especially those living in the Long Island area, who would not have electricity or clean water for weeks, had no transportation to local grocery stores which may or may not have any food, and had not seen any government assistance until days following the storm.

Although the decimation of the Jersey Shore is the most prominent effect of the storm to many people, the loss of lives and homes is what is more prevalent.

An episode of Dateline on NBC profiled a family which evacuated in time for the storm, but they went back a few days later to survey the damage, and what the family saw was incredibly moving.

Their entire house had been uprooted and blown nearly ten feet from where it originally stood. Baby books, wedding albums, and all of the things that help define who we are as people had been abruptly taken from these people without a moment’s notice.

Despite everything the family would have to face within the next few months of rebuilding, it was the last words the husband spoke to his wife that were touching. He held her in his arms and assured that the both of them- but more importantly their two children- would be alright as long as they were alive and had each other.

It seemed amazing to me that a family that had just lost everything could have so much hope and optimism. Meanwhile, after the first 24 hours without electricity, I felt as if I would not survive and had nowhere to turn because I could not communicate with anyone.

When faced with tragedy, it is difficult to keep things in perspective, but it is crucial that one always remember the things that are truly important in life. While some people were simply without phone or television access for a few days, others lost family members, including children.

If there is one thing that people should take away from a natural disaster such as Hurricane Sandy, it is the notion that life is precious, and it is important to hold near and dear to your heart the things that truly matter. As we all return to our daily routines and search for some level of normalcy once again, let us not forgot what life was like for us during those few days without electricity, heat, and in some cases, food. Who kept us safe and assured us that everything would be okay. Was it our iPhones and Macs? No. It was our loved ones. Our parents, siblings, and significant others are the ones who matter most, and we should cherish them at often as possible.

With two parents traveling outside of the country, the first person I called once I was able to charge my phone again was my sister who insisted that I come to her house and stay with her family. Her only concern was my safety and that of her own daughter’s.

If it wasn’t for her husband who stood in line at the gas station for four hours, I would not have had the gas to put in my car to drive back home after driving to her house. These precious moments in life are the ones we take for granted, but these are the moments we must remember when faced with disaster because when we have the strength that our families give us, we will always come out on the other side of tragedy.

Because I do recognize that we live in a world preoccupied by iPads and iPhones, cars and gas in abundance, heat and running water on a constant basis, I know that when we lose those things, it is hard to imagine survival.

However, at the end of the day, it is the people who love us most who are most important, and unfortunately, sometimes it takes a natural disaster or some form of tragedy to teach us valuable life lessons.

Although the people living in areas that were ravaged by the storms are suffering in ways those of us who are back to our normal lives could never imagine, the one constant we see when those people are on television telling their story is the sense of community in those areas.

People from all walks of life are coming together to help neighbors, strangers, and people they ordinarily would not help under other circumstances.

These people have learned the lesson of the importance of family and unity and holding close to your heart the things which really matter, and with the support of those who love them, they too, will come out on the other side.