Here in New Jersey Hurricane Sandy has been shockingly devastating. Despite the harsh warnings of an impending "Frankenstorm", it's safe to say that few of us were really prepared for this. From Manhattan to the Jersey Shore, neighborhoods have been torn apart. Decimated. Leveled.
Even miles from the shore, fallen trees and downed power lines have left millions of area residents without heat or electricity. Gas is in short supply. Looting is rampant. Price gouging imminent. It's hard to know who is safe, which way is up, where you can get help.
But Sandy has brought everyone out of their homes. With no power and no internet, with roads unsafe to drive and gas in short supply, our neighbors are out and about. They are walking down the street, viewing the damage and stopping by to say hello. Neighbors are chatting and sharing their stories. Towns are gathering together in warming and charging stations in local libraries and fire stations. People are lending a hand to help a neighbor, volunteering to boost relief and recovery efforts, and reaching out in ways that seemed all but lost. We share food and warmth, conversation and connection.
Sandy has helped us to rediscover community.
Whether standing on a coffee line one hundred people deep or charging our cell phones at a local station, people are connecting face-to-face. We are being reminded that there is great power in our in real life community. When social media goes down, our attention turns to the true source of community - real life. We share together in our struggles and ask for help from one another. And we realize that there is still power right on our streets. Not electric power. Not online networks. But the power of people to do good, to help out, and to make us feel connected amid the chaos. Power to move branches, put out fires, bring a hot meal, or hold a warm hand.
It's not the photos of the damage that move us, it is the images of humanity coming together. It's seeing the rescue workers bringing people to safety. It's watching the volunteers bring food and warmth to people in need. It's what we do in communities across America. And it can't be replaced by a Facebook post or a Tweet.