I am a light sleeper, always have been. Now that I’m a father of a newborn baby, you can imagine how much less sleep I get each night. I have a lot on my mind these days. Two-thirds of my district was devastated by Hurricane Sandy. The people I represent have experienced physical, financial and emotional pain beyond compare. And despite all of the progress that has been made over the past several months, there is still so much work to do before life gets back to “normal.” There is no rest for the weary.
Now that the massive relief effort launched to help people in our area is winding down, we are moving into phase two of the recovery effort, providing for the long-term needs generated by the storm including: housing assistance, legal counseling, job-training, building requirements and more. I am confident that by working together we can find solutions to these problems and overcome [them].
Interestingly enough, how we stay connected has also changed. In the days and weeks after the storm, social media played a critical role in keeping residents up-to-date with the latest information. One might ask, where would we be without Facebook and Twitter? Whether it was finding out when school would reopen or how long it would take for utility companies to restore power and heat, most of us read it online and communicated it to others.
In these very difficult times, it is important for us to remember that we are all in this together. We are recovering together, rebuilding together and like the phoenix, we will rise from the ashes. It will take more than a hurricane to break the spirit of a true New Yorker. We are resilient, indomitable and possess a rare and enviable ability to get the job done.
I am hopeful that this period in time will not be remembered for the lives that were shattered or the homes that were destroyed but rather for the strong sense of community that brought us closer to one another. It is in times such as these that we realize we need others and others need us.
Eric A. Ulrich is New York City Councilman for the 32nd District in South Queens.