Shaking Sandy: A View From The Ground On Long Island

On this day before Election Day, a national election, there is no talk of it whatsoever.

I am rapt, but amongst my people, it’s just not part of daily conversation. A contentious election with a lot at stake ranks as a distant concern.

To the rest of the nation and the world, forgive us for having ceased to participate in the national orgasm.

Daily conversation ranges to the mundane inconveniences brought on by spotty cell phone coverage, to thanks for warm showers, to need for food and clothes, to passing police checkpoints to reenter ones own neighborhood. I can’t turn down that road. It’s gone. A tree is in the way. A house is in the way.

Every third person you speak to has lost something. Everyone knows someone who has lost everything.

We’re living in a shocked culture, between the points of impact and recovery, dazed and reaching out. There is gas, there isn’t gas. They ran out. They’re getting more. I heard it. Where is more. What have you heard.

There is much you haven’t heard.

The view from the ground is shocking, surprising. Yes, people are coming in by boat and looting homes. Un-confirmable stories circulate that law enforcement has given the go ahead for people to defend their property on their own terms. Another story comes in detailing the unfortunate story of a pair of teens that drove through a wiped out neighborhood, videotaping and teasing the remaining residents. They were confronted and punished by the locals. Arriving police broke it up, then discovered evidence on video that this taunting had been ongoing in several locations.

That this has brought out the worst in people is balanced out somewhat by the evidence that it is also bringing out the best.

People are showing up in droves to volunteer. Charity is taking on new highs; a local restaurant has pledged it’s whole take for one night next week to go to the Red Cross, and the servers are sacrificing their tips. Down the street from them, none of the other restaurants have had power; no one has worked for a week. A random week with no income. Public estimates from the power company say repairs in the region overall will take another week. Two separate sources with unfiltered information estimate the wait will continue until Thanksgiving.

This is life on Long Island, as we continue Shaking Sandy. We hear there’s an election tomorrow.