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Hurricane Sandy and the meaning of Resilience for New York City and New Yorkers

October 31, 2012
Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy

“These are the times that try men’s souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”

Thomas Paine, “The American Crisis, No. I,” Pennsylvania Journal, December 19, 1776; Writings 1;169!

Hurricane Sandy left us with incredible devastation, human loss, property damages, thousand of people saved and millions without power. I have never gone through a natural disaster like this one: it almost felt like an apocalyptical passage from the bible transformed into a direct aim: the Northeast in United States. I live in the Upper West Side, one of the greatest areas also cause is close by to the park. Mayor Bloomberg announced that this hurricane was going to hit us hard, like no one has ever done before. I have lived in the city for ten years and I was ready for the worst, loss of power, electricity, flooded streets everything and although the path of the hurricane was surrounding the island of New York City we knew it was going to hit us hard.

Maps never lie, maps were telling us that this one was going to be a violent one and everything below west 4th was like that: streets, subways and bridges flooded, loss of power and devastating consequences in other boroughs like Brooklyn or Queens (80 houses wiped out due to fire) and catastrophic effects in New Jersey, a beloved jersey shore where a year ago i was sun bathing with my girlfriend now ex getting ready for a massive seminar for Englewood Hospital, all that Long Branch is gone, destroyed. And what is even more saddening is that New York is not used to this catastrophes so insurance companies are not used to insure although there should be always a small line at the end saying that your property should be protected in the case of  castastrophy.

However, me not being a New Yorker but living here for ten years my morale was hit not because of the devastation of this tragedy and although feeling lucky for not getting hit directly just to see the millions of people suffering and the incredible amount of property lost but in this times were tragedy strucks just a great city like New York also a new opportunity arises where resilience can be shown at different levels. Here is where my opening paragraph made me realize our most incredible asset: Resilience. I am going to mention the paragraph again:

“These are the times that try men’s souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”

– – Thomas Paine, “The American Crisis, No. I,” Pennsylvania Journal, December 19, 1776; Writings 1;169!

I still remember it was 7:20 when i was supposed to have my first client: David a successful lawyer in the upper west side. I was not sure if he wanted to do the session or if he was like me: feeling down, depressed and stuck by tragedy.

Central park tree impacting in a car

Central park tree impacting in a car

He responded to me quickly and said lets do at 8 better. I said OK i was still with tears in my eyes looking at everything on tv. I brushed my teeth, hugged my cats and got myself ready to start the new day. Walking at 83rd and Central Park west saw a tree from the park falling into an expensive car parked there and completely destroying it, then few more block and tress were all in the middle of the street like as of the most devastating tragedy has passed by. It reminded me the movie “I am a Legend” where Will Smith was in the middle of the city surrounded by destruction and chaos. I got finally to David’s apartment and my surprise is to see him even emotionally affected to get back to his life like nothing has happened cause he wanted to be resilient, he even said to me : Are you ok Michael? You didn’t have to come if you didn’t want to. Then i realized that the word resilience is exactly that stand up fast and hit harder than before. David trained like never before: he was strong, fast, smart on top of his game and he even said to me thanks for coming now lets help in whenever we can do. I went back to my street and decided to help removing branches and calling the volunteer line even going to my church and asking if there was something to do.

Tree fallen at 82nd street where i helped remove branches

Tree fallen at 82nd street where i helped remove branches

Resilience according to Webster Dictionary: 

Definition of RESILIENCE

1 the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress
2 an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change

After ten years in New York City i finally understood the incredible world of Resilience and how this city like many other in United States posses the valuable quality of striving for excellence that the Ancients Greeks always strived for. I am Resilient and i am bouncing back stronger than ever and so do you. Thanks for reading.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Tatiana permalink
    October 31, 2012 12:10 pm

    reading your emotional article make me feel stronger Michael and more resilient ❤ RESILIENCE ❤ we all need it ❤

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