I started my writing career with ADVANCE back in 2006 with an article titled, "Surviving Wilma." It was a detail of the days and weeks of providing homecare after Hurricane Wilma trashed Fort Lauderdale, FL.
Now there's Sandy.
New Yorkers tend to have a cavalier attitude toward hurricanes. We know that the beach communities in Queens will get flooded and the "L" train will stop running. Thank goodness the city administration understood and shut down the subways/buses the day before. Nothing could have prepared me for the images on Monday night of cars floating through my old neighborhood, the East Village, or of water pouring into the tunnels of lower Manhattan. On Tuesday, riding a bus through a blackened Chinatown with cars abandoned and tossed to the side by the floodwaters, it was an experience like something out of a disaster film.
This time I was extremely fortunate. My home never lost power and was sitting up high. The commute from Brooklyn to Manhattan was two-and-a-half hours each way last week in a combination of buses, trains and old-fashioned foot power. Our nurses and PTs worked throughout, providing care to those in need. This task required some people to climb 10-20 stories to reach people in high rises without power, walking instead of using buses, subways or cars, all while many had no power or heat themselves.
Many of the PTs were the first and only people to call on some patients. Situations like this require cross-professional working; reminding patients to take medications, instructing on sufficient food/fluid intake, monitoring weights of people with CHF... we do what we have to do! Diane Sawyer profiled a nurse from my agency and what she faced on her rounds.
Sandy is a good reminder of the necessity for disaster planning, both in the workplace and at home. There are too many tragic stories of loss of life that could've been prevented had people taken action earlier.
If you have anything to spare, the Red Cross and other agencies are trying to help the people of the New York and New Jersey communities ravaged by this storm. They could use any help you can provide.