For the last 2+ weeks, Hurricane Sandy and its impacts have dominated the news. The devastation was particularly awful in my native state (New York) and my home state (New Jersey). Tomorrow, President Obama will view the damage on Staten Island, the NYC borough where I grew up; Staten Island suffered the greatest number of fatalities from the storm.
We lost power for 5 days but consider ourselves lucky. Our home didn't sustain any damage. It was very cold during that period, especially at night, but we persevered. Other relatives had greater challenges from the storm - one with catastrophic damage; another with no phone communications for several days, living near the Jersey Shore; a third with no power for nearly two weeks.
Nonetheless, there is a lot to be grateful for this Thanksgiving. There have been countless wonderful stories of people helping each other. Of course, we will always have geniuses such as the one on the news yesterday who punched out a utility worker from Florida who had just put in a very long day restoring power and was simply eating dinner. But this is countered by examples such as the gentleman from Newark who is legally blind but who made sure his neighbors had enough food and other necessities. Then there is the story of a Rutgers student who has decided to leave school to care for her younger siblings after their parents were tragically killed by a falling tree in Morris County in New Jersey. In New York City, the subways have been returning to service in less than two weeks through Herculean efforts despite historic, never-before-seen flooding. Donations of clothing and other essentials have been overwhelming volunteer organizations. Even our leaders deserve special recognition for the examples they are setting - Governor Christie and President Obama working together without regard to their political differences.
So for those of us around the USA who are fortunate enough to share a warm meal with family or friends this Thanksgiving, please keep in your hearts your fellow citizens who, in many cases, lost what they had spent their entire lives building. May these times with family or friends always have a special place, and may those facing unimaginable challenges from Hurricane Sandy find strength in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead.