More than Jersey Shore or Mob Wives

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.

One of my favorite pictures (Source: Reuters)

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.

Marathoners helping Sandy victims (Source: SIlive.com)

Information on how to help

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.

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    2. I haven’t been able to blog about anything besides the Hurricane either, it just doesn’t seem that important when people are dealing with so much. I am a Staten Islander too so its been very emotional for me. I am running a fundraiser on my blog for the Stephen Siller Foundation so hopefully I can contribute in that way. Thankfully theres so much volunteer work to be done, I’ll be there this weekend again. Glad you and your family area safe.
      Megan@ Run Like a Grl recently posted..Fundraiser for Staten Island Hurricane Sandy Recovery + Giveaway!My Profile

    3. It’s been amazing to see how people have come together and the outpouring of support. You’re right – it has renewed my belief in the human spirit. I am so glad that you and your family are OK. xoxo
      Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..Stir crazy boysMy Profile

    4. I completely respect what you are doing and how you are trying to respect and rebuild and honor your home and island. I pray everything gets restored as quickly as possible. stay safe!
      jobo recently posted..The thing about planning.My Profile

    5. Lovely post! I am so glad you are okay and my heart goes out to everyone who was affected by Hurricane Sandy.
      Betsy recently posted..The NY Marathon, the Giants Game & the HypocrisyMy Profile

    6. I am so glad you’re doing well and that your family is safe and unharmed. I am so sorry for the loss that your community has endured, and I pray that the rebuild is quick. (And I refuse, REFUSE, to watch Jersey Shore or any show like it, because you’re right…terrible examples. I’m not sure why such crap gets ratings.) You’re all in my thoughts and prayers.
      Melissa @ Live, Love, & Run recently posted..#WeeklyChase: New beginnings, announcements, & my 5-year plan.My Profile

    7. What a mess! I’m so glad your family is safe and has heat, etc… but I can completely understand how overwhelmed you must be by this disaster. It always amazes me how everyone comes together in times of need, and I hope there is more than enough to go around and take care of all the needs. Thank you for sharing the ways to help!
      Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted..How do you choose a training plan?My Profile

    8. yes, you are so right. Be proud of what your city and community is doing. It will lift the spirits. Other things in life do seem so trivial, i can imagine. I am grateful for you sharing this. Like i mentioned before, we need to mourn, to give, to endure with and for each other. I’m so sorry for those who lost everything. hugs and prayers to you and others!
      lindsay recently posted..To Mourn the StormMy Profile

    9. Beautiful post. I’m happy that your family is doing okay, but my heart goes out to your community. I know that the path to recovery will be a long and slow one…I am so sorry for all that you and others have lost. Despite all the suffering, it’s truly amazing to see people come together for something good. I hope you continue to get the assistance that you need and your family will remain in my thoughts and prayers.
      Lauren recently posted..Closed Door. Open Window.My Profile

    10. So glad to hear you all are safe. I will continue to keep you and your family in my prayers.

    11. Sending you hugs and best wishes to you and your family from the UK.
      xox

    12. weve been praying for you.
      YOU specifically and the general Staten Island you.

      xoxo
      Miz recently posted..Thirty days. No processed Food.My Profile

    13. Michele, I am so happy to know that you and your family are safe above all else. I can’t even begin to imagine what you are going through. Being from Queens myself and having spent some time in Staten Island, I have to say that the city isn’t as big as it feels and in times of crisis, New Yorkers know how to band together to lend each other a helping hand. That’s the spirit of New York and especially true in places like SI. Hang in there – it WILL get better.

    14. So happy to hear that you and your family are safe. My husband is from Eltingville and we visited on Friday. His mom still had power but just a block away (by the water) it was a different world. I tease my husband from being from the rock but I always say that it is a wonderful place to live, an awesome place to raise a family and a proud place to be from.
      Liz @ runbakerace recently posted..Moving On From NYCM 2012My Profile

    15. Such a heart felt post! I’m glad the people of SI have such a great community. It’s inspiring.
      Jess recently posted..Richmond BoundMy Profile

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