Hurricane Sandy was a horrific event, by far the worst thing to happen to New York City since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
And while the two events are vastly different in scope and impact — Sandy is known so far to have killed 34 people in the city, while nearly 3,000 died in the massacre at the World Trade Center — they have more in common than just the temporary closure of the New York Stock Exchange. Because Sandy, like the Sept. 11 attacks, has shown how lives can be changed or ended in an instant, and has brought out the best in many of those who survived it.
Cooperation is among those things most needed right now to get through the aftermath of the storm. And it’s what we’re seeing, for the most part, all over Queens. Families washed out of their homes in Howard Beach and Broad Channel, for example — as well as those burned out of them in the devastating fire that destroyed so much of Breezy Point — are being welcomed with open arms by friends and relatives.
Yes, there was looting in the Rockaways, and rumors of it elsewhere, but those crimes are being committed by the few. The many are taking care of their neighbors in need, whether by helping clean up the mess, storing food in their freezers, letting them charge their cell phones, letting them stay over, giving them rides into Manhattan for work ... in every way you can think of and probably more.
Here at the Chronicle, we opened our doors this week to two other community newspapers whose offices are without power so they could publish — one of them a direct competitor. They, like us, are determined to keep the readers informed about the rebuilding process that has begun and will continue into the foreseeable future. Helping them out may seem like a small thing, but we did what we could — and if you’ve ever seen an editor or publisher faced with the possibility of not getting a paper out, you know it’s no small thing.
The hurricane reminds us all of what’s most important in life. Belongings can be replaced and homes repaired. Gas lines eventually will shorten and businesses will reopen. It’s the relationships between people that really matter the most.
We don’t need to say that everyone should team up and work together to get through the multiple crises brought on by the hurricane, because we know everyone already is. Just look at the praise New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gave to President Obama when the president promised the federal government would do all it could, and quickly, to assist in the recovery effort. Christie is as ardent a Republican as they come and an opponent of the president — though it is possible he privately wants him re-elected so he can run for the White House in 2016. Regardless, the cooperation between the two sets a good model. In the end we are one community, however divided we seem during election season.
In less than a week we’ll be casting ballots in the race for the White House between Obama and challenger Mitt Romney. That’s where we can show our divisions, but in a way that also brings us together as Americans and has for more than 200 years. Some want to delay voting because of the hurricane, such as northern Queens City Councilman Dan Halloran, who’s running against Flushing Assembly-woman Grace Meng for Congress, but it’s not happening. While Halloran’s concerns about getting the power fixed at polling places and the Board of Elections’ poor track record in problem-solving are legitimate, we will be voting on Nov. 6. And afterward we will come together to support the president, whoever he will be. Just as today we are coming together to support one another, here in the greatest city and greatest country in the world. We will recover, together.