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Is it too soon to be honest? Can we continue reading about what should or could have happened? Surely there have to be reasons why things occur the way they do. Hurricane Sandy making headlines before it arrived provided warnings to all people living in its path.
Perhaps the first answer we need is to why so many people ignored these warnings. Officials from weather services announced their predictions based on technological maps. Local leaders respected their assumptions and advised people to evacuate all areas along the Eastern Seaboard in Sandy’s path. This advice in hindsight proved to be necessary for saving lives. Govs. Chris Christie, of New Jersey, and Andrew Cuomo, of New York, along with other individuals made their demands and the appropriate facilities and services were closed or stopped.
With the storm hours away, residents of several communities made decisions they lived to regret or in some cases lost lives in ignoring. If pressed, these people in interviews offer several excuses for not leaving their homes. Many had excuses that over time will represent a lesson for all.
As the storm made landfall, we experienced widespread destruction mixed with fear and awareness never imagined. For those with television access, a series of disasters played out before our eyes. These riveting images of flooding waters, a hanging crane, lost power and massive fires created emotions bordering on surreal.
Within several hours, we witnessed the destruction of people’s lives in more ways than we can comprehend. The rattling of windows and doors subject to the wind’s fury caused anxiety that stood against the storm’s best attempts to knock us down. For those individuals who were not so lucky, the result was one of dire circumstance.
In our surrounding communities and states, the devastation was unbelievable.
In the aftermath, as morning arrived and with the worst of the storm behind us, these areas became the focus of news channels, representing the realization of one storm’s wrath. The concentration of reporting focused on two areas in particular after the storm: New Jersey and Breezy Point.
The New Jersey coast immediately brought about images of a most disturbing nature: lives lost and homes destroyed. In Breezy Point, the image of more than 100 homes lost to a fire gave legions a moment of reflection and indignation.
In conversations with reporters, people would hesitate to detail their own losses, knowing so many lost everything. The indignation came about related to the response from government agencies and law enforcement. Perhaps herein lies our first clue as to what we as citizens can expect in the future.
In the grand scheme of defining our collective experiences of the past several weeks, it is relevant to recognize how many of us feel. Words like “disillusioned” and “annoyed” are bandied about without our being aware we are saying what we say. Questions being asked have no answers until the next calamity.
Did our officials really do what was right in the best interest of the public or, as many left with nothing in their hearts are asking, is the grandstanding of officials in the face of any natural disaster a reason for a good photo-op? The biggest question is: Can we as citizens believe these people have our best interests at heart?
In a nation often spoken about as being the “best” and “greatest,” do we have faith in anyone we place in office? In the middle of what proved to be for many their worst nightmare, concerns of the election loomed on the horizon. The end result is of little importance when so much needs to be done to help people get their lives back in order.
“Getting back to normal” was a war cry used to help us all get past the events of Sept. 11, 2001. It was an event which will scar us for decades to come. The casualties of that day pay homage to the lives lost, but little is mentioned of the lives changed. Here, too, in the aftermath of a horrendous storm we should all be aware our country needs something more than good leadership or bipartisanship.
To be fair, warnings this time prevented the loss of more lives. Our leaders reacted to the warnings and did what was necessary, but the reality of preventive measures cannot be balanced with the things needed after such disasters. It is the aftermath we need to address at all costs.
If the weather bureau is correct, the possibility of similar storms can be expected. Our leaders, as they assess the damage, should be striving for ways to limit destruction in the future. The safety and well-being of the population demands it and our children deserve it.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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