This is in part a love letter to my city.
New Yorkers are resilient people. We are the City of Lights, the City That Never Sleeps. So it was chilling to me to see half the city pitch black. I never thought I would see the skyline without the lights of NYU hospital, where so many of my friends and family work. Someone asked me what my family’s plans were, and I said, “They work at Bellevue, which has a backup generator for the backup generator. The storm can lay siege if it wants.”
We were so sure in our belief that as New Yorkers, we were untouchable.
Then the storm and reality hit, blowing walls off buildings and shorting electrical generators. My heart stopped.
Here’s what I wrote in an email:
“The phone lines are down. parts of NYC are 3 ft underwater. subways all flooded. 2 of 3 NYU hospitals evacuated. Tisch lost both backup generators. Bellevue’s are iffy. They’ve spent the past 3 days evacuating patients. Carrying patients down 9 flights bc elevators don’t work.
And Romney wants to gut FEMA, our nation’s disaster management, response, and relief system. Our safety net. I don’t feel safer and more secure. Do you?”
Is it “immoral” to support disaster relief that helps families and small businesses get back on their feet?
FEMA helps people in red states and blue states. Florida, Iowa, New York, Nevada, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas. These are just a few. Disaster relief and management isn’t about how you vote. It’s about providing you with the necessities that you need to survive. Whether you’re a farmer whose crops flooded or a urban apartment dweller, FEMA and our federal government are here for you. The President has your back.
I spoke to a man from upstate NY last night who said his remote town in the Catskills was absolutely wiped out by Hurricane Irene. The people in his town vote mostly Republican. One town over, 80% of the 1200 residents left and didn’t move back. They lost so much of their revenue base. How do you keep schools and facilities open? You can’t – it’s a ghost town.
Most importantly, he explained that people don’t understand what FEMA does, it only funds the essentials. He got a small amount of money for a generator and a heater. He was sad that he wasn’t going to be able to vote (was sent out of town for 2 weeks on business), and thanked us for turning out the vote for Obama.
I want to thank the first responders (nurses, doctors, fire fighters, EMTs) who stayed and pulled 72 hour shifts to evacuate patients and babies. I want to thank the National Guard for keeping the city secure. I and my friends and family salute all the men and women who are helping rebuild the Big Apple. Who pitch in to help across this country, wherever they are needed.
NYC is not and will never be a ghost town. NYers will rebuild and keep going. Forward. That’s the direction our country needs to go, together with Barack Obama.