Lessons Learned, New ways to think

learning from experience

As a parent of a special needs child who is now a special needs young adult, I feel as though I have done nothing but learn from experience. Trying treatments, doctors, school programs and behavior plans is a regular occurrence in our home. Sometimes they work, sometimes they are horrible failures. What we always try to do is take a moment to reflect on our experiences and carry on to try something new.

These past two weeks have been spend trying to help anyone and everyone here in our North east disaster zone. We live in NYC, actually on Staten Island, one of the hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy two weeks ago. The restoring and rebuilding process has been ongoing. People have been helping in anyway they can, even if it is simply with hugs, smiles, prayers and best wishes. So many have offered donations and pure elbow grease in getting things accomplished.

But what have we learned from all of this? I tend to feel that here on Staten Island what has been felt the most is the ability to count on each other. The community on a whole has truly come together in support of those who have lost all, most and even if they only lost a small portion of their lives, there is indeed support available. Sometimes it may be a shoulder to cry on, or in some cases a cartload of supplies, but there has indeed been major hometown rally cries.

Our local officials have been amazing. The assistance began long before the storm damage was visible. I personally will say that the only proper information I had during the storm was from the social networking pages of my Staten Island local leaders. They were wonderful. Their information was absolutely life saving. They had their pages open and were letting us know what was happening, they assisted in the life saving efforts of our fantastic first responders. They let us know about power outages, about where to go for help, food, warmth, clothing, anything one could possibly needs. They rolled up their sleeves and got dirty. They did it all and we should now know how completely blessed we are. There was no party line these days. Republican, Democrat, whether you voted for them or not, they were at your doorstep to help. We learned what it was to be human. We were indeed an island those days. Bridges closed, ferries stopped. Only each other to cling to.

As more details are available, scientist are revealing what many have been saying for years. If we cement over our natural sponge, the water will take our homes and our lives. We, as humans need to respect our wetlands. They are not a place for development, we need to preserve the dunes. We have to educate ourselves. We live on an island, which of course is surrounded by water. Water is a major force of nature. I do not believe there is one single person on this island that will ever doubt that fact again.

We learned that the media often cries wolf. However, we also learned that every once in awhile, they are telling the truth. This time, it was fact. However, we had all been so de sensitized by their over hype of every single weather event, many did not take the warnings seriously. This is something that needs to be looked into. Small events cannot be dramatized. People get hurt because they cannot trust what they hear since the information is so often false and embelished. Our media must take their responsiblity to impart correct information more seriously. It is not always about selling newspapers. It is about saving lives.

Our law inforcement officials tried their best to evacuate families. However, those who evacuated in the past only to come home to dry homes that were picked clean by robbers were a hard sell. During the storm surge itself, the areas affected were no place for any living being. However, there needs to be something done to help families feel more secure about leaving an area that may become dangerous during times of trouble. All things to think about, lessons that must be taken from our loss, from our sorrow.

The best lesson learned from all that has happened is to hold on to every moment. In an instant all that you value can be gone. Every story I have heard from those who survived the storm surge was, "one moment, nothing, the next moment the water was everywhere, just coming in stronger and strong, deeper and deeper." In an instant. We must treasure what we have that cannot be replaced. Hold on to those we love. Do not take anything for granted.

The only way to get through a major trauma is to try to find the positive. In this case, it is very difficult. However, to listen to those who have been deeply affected, is amazing. Their strength, their spirit, their hope is something to be admired. They are forging ahead, many strengthened by the multitides of kind faces, hearts and hands who are willing and ready to help as often and as much as they can. So many who have very little even to support their own families have given because they value life. They want to make something good come from tragedy. Our island is like the Phoenix and it will indeed rise from the ashes. The hope is that the lessons learned from the devastation, the mourning and the rebuilding process will make our community stronger and smarter will the ability to withstand anything, no matter how difficult.

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