Trick or treaters, sirens and gas shortages

Photo of a Halloween trick-or-treater, Redford...
Photo of a Halloween trick-or-treater, Redford, Michigan, United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I write this — sitting on a friend’s sofa who has power and wi-fi — I hear two sounds, the wailing of sirens and the calls of little kids out trick or treating in their Hallowe’en costumes.

But I also heard a third lovely sound, the rumble of the commuter train once more heading north.

Life post-Sandy is weird indeed.

I went out today for a business lunch and had a great three-hour meeting with a potentially really interesting and valuable client. The restaurant was full, the lights on, the music playing, the food delicious.

Then it took me 30 minutes to drive back to my town, normally about a 10 minute journey, because the line-ups for the very few gas stations that are open right now stretch for miles.

The New York City marathon got cancelled today, the idea of starting the race on Staten Island — where they are still digging bodies out of the rubble — too offensive for many people to stomach. From CBS News:

The New York City Marathon was canceled Friday by Mayor Michael Bloomberg after mounting criticism that this was not the time for a race while the region is still recovering from superstorm Sandy.

With people in storm-ravaged areas still shivering without electricity and the death toll in New York City at more than 40, many New Yorkers recoiled at the prospect of police officers being assigned to protect a marathon on Sunday.

An estimated 40,000 runners from around the world had been expected to take part in the 26.2-mile event. The race had been scheduled to start in Staten Island, one of the hardest-hit areas by this week’s storm.

“We would not want a cloud to hang over the race or its participants, and so we have decided to cancel it,” the mayor said in a statement. “We cannot allow a controversy over an athletic event — even one as meaningful as this — to distract attention away from all the critically important work that is being done to recover from the storm and get our city back on track.”

I read friends’ posts on-line and hear horrific tales: exploding cars, homes on Long Island and New Jersey utterly destroyed, people putting up old, ill family members in their tiny apartment, the sudden value of a camper’s headlamp for reading and getting safely around a darkened home. (We have two. Yay!)

The challenges now are:

1) stay warm, dry, bathed, fed, safe, connected; 2) making sure your vehicle has enough gas; 3) not driving to make sure the gas you have lasts; 4) checking up on neighbors to make sure they are OK and offering them whatever help you can that they need, from sharing your fridge to using your power and/or wi-fi.

What’s really interesting is how (we pray, oh, how we pray) this terrible disaster may also affect the Presidential election, which is scheduled for November 6, only a few days away. There is a video clip making the rounds of Mitt Romney saying how immoral FEMA is. Perfect!

FEMA is the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

You’re right…what were we thinking? Disaster relief is for losers and government-dependent leeches, says dear Mittens.

It’s hard right now know what to focus on — work? friends? groceries? gas?

I’m still doing as much of my work as I can, checking in with clients and sources in Michigan, Minnesota, Georgia, Florida and Toronto. But it feels surreal and annoying to have to do any work at all when we all feel so disrupted and ill at ease.

Yet it’s good to be able to keep the machinery moving, to send an invoice and be able to deposit a check. My friend needs to find a new job and get some freelance work lined up and a week without Internet or power means another week of financial anxiety.

I hear a woman on her cellphone say: “I have no idea what time it is anymore. I feel like a cavewoman.”

I suspect there’s a lot of that right now.

10 thoughts on “Trick or treaters, sirens and gas shortages

  1. As a fellow Canadian, I bet you can only imagine what your north of the border neighbours are thinking when it comes to Mitt. We have a very conservative PM and we think republicans are too conservative for us. How inhumane can one person be to think aid and support is wrong/too expensive/immoral? This is crazy!!! I hope Staten Island/City Island/jersey shore et al are able to stand proudly once again. I pray Americans choose humanity over dollars in the election. And I pray everyone is safe during this nightmare called Sandy Aftermath. xxx

    1. It’s very bad for many people in Manhattan — which is a vertical city. Some can’t get out of their apartments without elevators or lit hallways, so volunteers are doing their best to reach them. I asked Jose if maybe we can go into the city tomorrow to help out, as the trains are now running again and with my new hip I am able to helpful.

  2. Thank you for your update. Good to know you and your husband are OK.
    Tonight I decided to walk the .5 mile to my early voting site instead of driving. Not a big sacrifice, but we all have to start somewhere with changing our globally-warming behavior.

  3. What is so appalling, is thinking about all those campaign dollars dropped straight into the toilet when there are so many people in need. Truly, it’s just shameful.

    I am not a Chris Christie fan, but the governor of New Jersey showed his true colors throughout this event. He stomped issues of politics in favor of focusing on the people he serves. He looked unkempt, sleep-deprived and stressed out, like many of our leaders should look in these situations.

    Here’s hoping that most will be able to return to some semblance of routine and living and that the rest of us are reminded not to take our modern conveniences for granted.

    1. It is…

      Jose just brought home a device that allows me to get my own wi-fi signal — which is how I am able to use my computer and email right now. Thank God. But we have only one working washing machine (for 100 people) and no dryer — but we have a clothesline and lots of fresh air. Our gas stove works and we have one outlet in the kitchen allowing for a few lights and charging our phone and computer. What is really annoying is that some people in our building have full power and others have none, yet we are all paying for the generator.

  4. Thanks for posting this. Glad to hear you and yours are thus far all right. All my NYC/NJ friends have checked in and everybody’s okay. No power for some, but they were lucky and didn’t get flooded or wind-damaged. It seems freaking surreal there.

    1. We now have power and are very grateful…it’s surreal in how terrible the worst damage is…bits of NJ and Staten Island are so ruined it is hard to believe. It is also shocking how long the gas lines are, how very poorly prepared we are — given our utter dependence on cars. I wonder if Prius sales or moped sales will rise. It sure makes me want to own a scooter to have a gas-sipping alternative.

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