Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me the last week. As I’ve already expressed, my family is safe. My house was left virtually untouched. We were without power and heat for the better part of the week (both have been restored). But it seems like nothing compared to what so many people along the east coast, my hometown of Staten Island, and members of my immediate family are currently dealing with.
I have no intention of blogging for the time being. It just doesn’t seem right to write about running, parenting, reviews right now – it all seems SO trivial given what people living right down the block from me are going through.
This week has been a total blur for me. For most of the week, we had no cell reception. In some ways it was incredibly frustrating. I felt so disconnected and it was extremely hard to communicate with anyone – even members of my own family. But not having access to the TV or internet or even facebook prevented me from seeing what had happened to my beautiful hometown. And in some ways I am actually grateful for not having ANY idea how badly Staten Island was hit until days later. I hadn’t seen what the harder hit areas of the island looked like until yesterday.
Words cannot begin to describe what I saw. Pictures and/or coverage on TV, while extensive and extremely focused on Staten Island, do not prepare you for experiencing it in person. Seeing so many of my favorite local businesses destroyed or people’s entire life’s possessions stacked 10-feet high along the curb, waiting for sanitation to take it away, is nauseating. There were boats through homes. Cars on top of other cars. Mud and debris everywhere. Having been to war multiple times, I can only describe it as a war zone.
I didn’t take a single picture yesterday. How could I? I felt that it was inappropriate and insensitive to attempt to document the heartache that my island is experiencing. There are enough pictures and footage on TV and in the papers. (This is our local newspaper’s roundup of footage/photos while these show Staten Islanders spirit).
I was born and raised on Staten Island and after over 10 years of living elsewhere, I happily and proudly call this Island my home once again. But I am ashamed to admit that there was a long stretch of time when I was embarrassed to be from Staten Island. After I went to college, I looked down on the island and had NO intention of ever returning (except to visit my family). Life’s circumstances brought my husband I temporarily back…and once we spent some time living here, we were hooked and started house hunting. It was the best decision we ever made.
Most people are familiar with Staten Island these days thanks to shows such as the Jersey Shore and Mob Wives. Out of principle, I have never watched a single episode of either show – I am embarrassed that they represent Staten Island to the outside world. These shows DO NOT accurately depict what Staten Islander’s or the island itself are like. Staten Islanders are friendly, hard working, family oriented people.
Despite all of the heartache I saw yesterday, I walked away amazed. And I have never been prouder to be a Staten Islander.
There is this feeling of community that I never could have imagined. My Facebook stream is FILLED with friends and acquaintances on the island offering help, supplies, clothes, shelter to anyone who needs it. My mom saw 10-15 young kids riding their bikes with backpacks filled with toilet paper, mops, and food. Donation sites are turning people away because there is an overabundance of clothes. Local hair salons offered free shampoos to those who had no water, my favorite pizzeria on the island donated hundreds of pizzas to victims, first responders, and volunteers, gyms were opening their doors so that others could take a hot shower, a local hotel owner refused rooms to would-be-marathoners and staff so that he could keep those needing shelter in the rooms.
Staten Island is a tight-knit community. If you meet someone, you can often figure out a common person that you both know. In the past, it was something that I disliked about the island – it’s the smallest big city in the country (as we are known). But in these circumstances, it’s something I love.
And my faith in humanity has been restored. The sheer number of messages, texts, tweets I have received offering money, supplies for my family has been overwhelming – and these have mostly been from people I’ve NEVER met. Thousands of would-be-marathoners met at the SI ferry in NYC and spent all day yesterday delivering supplies and cleaning.
Information on how to help
- A lot of people have asked about how to donate to Staten Island without going through the Red Cross. This site is focused primarily on recovery in my hometown: https://www.tunneltotowersfoundation.org/.
- There is also a Facebook page set up (Rebuild Staten Island) that shares information about donating, volunteering, etc.
- Registry for essential items for a friend
- Text NYCFUND to 50555 to give $10 to the Mayor’s Fund that will help provide essential aid and supplies to New Yorkers in need (thanks, Nicole for this)
- Facebook page for New York Runners in Support of Staten Island
Thank you, again, to everyone who has reached out to me and my family. I am so appreciative of your support, prayers, and thoughts. Please continue to keep those who lost their homes and loved ones in your prayers.