Tag: New York
Last time I was in New York I had the opportunity to play tourist in the city twice. Both times only for a few hours and both times very quickly. It was bitter cold and my energy level was very low but I had no idea how many of these opportunities I would get so I tried to see as much as I could.
The first day I took the Staten Island Ferry over and walked around lower Manhattan. I checked out Wall Street, Battery Park, the 911 Memorial, and took a cruise up the Hudson River that included a look at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Those two sights were (and still are) closed due to damage caused by Superstorm Sandy.
The second day I met up with a good friend of mine at a train station in New Jersey. There we hopped a train to Penn Station and walked around Midtown Manhattan. Our goal for the day was to go up in the Empire State Building so that was one of our first stops. We went up to both the 96th floor observation deck and the 102nd floor lookout. There’s not much you can’t see from that height. After a quick lunch we checked out Rockefeller Center, Macy’s Christmas windows, Bryant Park, and numerous other sites in Time Square.
This sort of “drive by” sightseeing was good enough for me at the time because I thought it was my only opportunity. But now I’m back! I’m feeling good and I’m hoping to make the best of my days off. That includes revisiting those places I sped through on the last visit. And hopefully an up close and personal look at the lady.
The outpouring of generosity here has been phenomenal! There are always people and organizations that come out to help in a disaster and, in major disasters, corporations and celebrities get added to the mix. This is the first time I’ve seen SO MANY individuals come to lend a hand. People have come from all over to donate items and volunteer their time to help out. They’ve helped to handout meals, pack & distribute needed items, and help survivors with cleaning out their property. Volunteer distribution sites popped up all over so survivors didn’t have to look far for needed supplies.
I decided to visit a few local places working for the cause. This is only two of the many out here but I wanted to share what they’re doing: The Mount Loretto Hurricane Relief Center at 6581 Hylan Boulevard (building #7) in Staten Island is a volunteer-run distribution center that has collected truckloads of items from corporations, celebrities, and individuals and will not only distribute to folks that come to the warehouse but also pack up needed items and deliver them to other locations. I got the grand tour of the place from the guy who’s taken the lead on this project. He gave me the 411 on how it got started, how they process requests, and the record-keeping they put in place to inventory and track everything. It is quite an impressive operation.
Possibili Tees , also at Mount Loretto (in building #20), is a little custom t-shirt shop that provides employment and job skills training to young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other developmental disorders. They have designed two disaster related t-shirts (see pics above) and are selling those at $10 a piece with the proceeds going to the disaster relief fund. (You know I had to get me one!)
Kudos to all of the individuals, businesses, and organizations assisting the Sandy survivors including: the Red Cross, United Way, Catholic Charities, Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, Samaritan’s Purse, Team Rubicon, FEMA Reservists, Google, Verizon, Anheuser-Bush, Jet Blue, Tide, Walgreens, Labella’s Restaurant, Arena Restaurant, Drunken Monkey Bar, Shoprite, Tunnel to Towers Foundation, Project Hospitality, Kiwanis Club, Rick’s Café, Ariana’s Grand & The Loft at Ariana’s Grand, and Rebuild Staten Island Foundation.
On October 22nd, Tropical Storm Sandy formed in the Caribbean and meteorologists began warning that Sandy would combine with a strong nor’easter and produce a storm of the century. The Weather Channel initially dubbed it “Frankenstorm” but it later became “SuperStorm” Sandy. On the night of October 29th, it slammed into the northeast coast near Atlantic City, New Jersey leaving catastrophic damage in its wake. As one survivor put it “Sandy kicked our asses”.
In the days leading up to the storm authorities warned millions to expect power outages at some point during Sandy and many would likely not have power restored for days, if not weeks. High winds, heavy rains, storm surge, flash flooding, and heavy snow were expected with this monster that caused impact states from Florida to Maine to prepare for the worst. Utility trucks were staged, evacuation orders were issued, power was shut off in anticipation of the surge, and the President issued emergency declarations to provide direct federal assistance to the states of CT, MA, MD, NJ, NY, PA, RI, DE, and the District of Columbia.
There was a lot of talk before this storm about media hype but everything happened exactly the way forecasters and authorities warned. Sandy was a multiple day event and, in the aftermath, 8.2 million people were without power, thousands were in shelters, hundreds of homes were destroyed, thousands more damaged, and near 100 people lost their lives in the US alone. The road to recovery will be long but hopefully the folks here, with the thousands that came to help, will stay strong and come back better than before.