I’m thinking today of all those who have lost loved ones, who honor them with grace, and whose resilience represents triumph and hope. The sh..t hit the fan in a way that knocked us sideways. Watching the plume from the roof. Breathing in air full of construction debris and dead bodies for weeks. Yet this was a seminal time for recovery 14 years ago. Spiritual outreach, acupuncture outreach especially to the rescue workers who dug through piles of carcinogenic debris looking for body parts, Recovery clinics throughout lower Manhattan. Working on rescue workers who appeared in the Michael Moore film Sicko because they couldn’t get government funds for their 9-11 related illnesses, despite the promises. The resilience of a city that went from PTSD to recovery. We honor the memories and plan for a new future.
More people are poor. Many lost all they had. Others used the occasion to amass fortunes and cut out jobs for a few more cents on the dollar. Ecological and social disaster go hand in hand. The clues are all around us. We have to change. Now the big question is, what is the first step to getting us where we want to be, where this kind of thing isn’t happening due to things that we might be able to prevent.
I get a lot of prepper stuff in my emails, some useful and some fearmongering. (One claimed he had to shelter his small blond niece from marauding hordes in the Rockaways after Hurricane Sandy- I know the area and it didn’t happen but probably sold copies of his ebook.) Those of us in NYC face WTSHTF situations frequently: 9-11, Sandy, blackouts, terrorist near misses, epidemic dangers, loss of food stores in damaged areas even sweeps of tens of thousands of people into government detention. Usually it brings out the best in people. We pull together for a few days or weeks. And we bounce back.
There will certainly more disasters as weather patterns change. My off the grid in the woods friends got chased out by forest fires this year and the fires covered many states and Canadian provinces. First Nation’s people find that fresh moose meat is suddenly green, if they can find moose even miles distant from the tar sands destruction that poisoned land and water. West coast starfish are turning into blobs instead of stars. The big earthquake could hit Oregon, Washington and BC with folded earth and tsunamis. New Orleans hasn’t fully recovered from the Katrina floods in 10 years and more hurricanes and underconstructed levees can be expected. Deformities and low birth rates affect elk, birds and bears which affect Native food chains. Crops are dying or in lowered production. Glaciers providing water in Bolivia are gone and those in parts of the Himalayas which supply water to India and Bangladesh are close to missing. The population of Syria suffered from drought conditions before migration and civil unrest broke out and now great populations are fleeing for their lives. Populations move with increased desertification and civil unrest grows. Diseases will spread. It isn’t just “them,” it will touch all of us.
This is the time for social and physical preparation. Put aside some cash, a little food, water, medicine, batteries, fuel and first aid supplies then reach out to your community. Join a civic help group or start one yourself. You can work with your neighbors to be prepared and to identify skills and locations for clinics, sanitation and communication when various disasters strike.
In a disaster you can bring food to the elderly, get supplies to housebound neighbors, bandage wounds, help direct traffic and do all kind of things. After Sandy my congregation made meals for over 100,000 including for elders in upper floors of high rise buildings. I worked in a makeshift acupuncture clinic giving trauma treatments after Katrina and Sandy. We worked on the rescue workers at the Convention Center after 9-11.
Work with your political groups (Occupy gave NYC far more assistance than the Red Cross!) Get your church, mosque or synagogue to organize help for whatever is going down, Learn first aid, CPR, defense techniques and how to listen. Save your fear for after the crisis passes so you can be of assistance. We are connected and we can get through things.