Published: Monday, November 5, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
By late Tuesday, Oct. 30, the winds and flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy had subsided, leaving at least 50 people dead along the Atlantic Coast, several homes destroyed by flooding and fires, and ruptured beachfronts and boardwalks from the mid-Atlantic states to southern New England. With an unprecedented blow to the U.S. Northeast’s power grid, millions of people lost electricity, some as far away as Michigan. Public transportation was halted, vehicles submerged, and garages flooded. The hurricane winds toppled light posts and trees, blocking roadways and inflicting damage as they fell onto cars, homes, and businesses. After surveying the widespread damage, it is clear much of the recovery and rebuilding set to take place will take several months at least. The damage and pain inflicted by Sandy, reported to be the biggest Atlantic storm in history, continues to unfold, especially on the coast as families return to their shore town homes, only to find themselves amidst widespread, irreparable damage.
Natural disasters are unpredictable and uncontrollable. As Hurricane Sandy did, they leave devastating effects on the environment and impact the lives of countless people. Properties are damaged and livelihoods are destroyed. Everything that had taken years—maybe even one’s entire lifetime—to build may very well disappear in just a few moments. Times of crises like Sandy remind us all of the fragility of the present, but also of our duties to one another as a people. The campaigns for the upcoming presidential election were halted in respect for the state of emergency. Relief efforts commenced at the turn of the storm. Firefighters braved the strong winds and currents to put out the fires raging in numerous neighborhoods. The National Guard implemented search and rescue missions throughout the East Coast. Amidst the madness, resourcefully using canoes, kayaks, and any other flotation devices at hand, courageous everyday men and women risked their lives in aid of flood victims.
Where do we stand in all of this as Boston College students? It may be funny to make memes or tweet how, be it rain or snow, classes never seem to be positively cancelled. It may seem reasonable to complain about how BC didn’t cancel classes as long as the other schools or universities in the Boston region had. I know I had my fair share of complaining when BC refused to cancel classes during a freak snowstorm my freshman year while all of the other schools in Boston were granted time off. It may sound like a good idea to run around and party outside in the storm. Some humor is certainly appreciated when coping with the tough realities at hand. Hell, it’s encouraged. But when do we, or should we, draw the line?
Skyping friends back at BC and reading tweets, Facebook posts, and memes about the hurricane from abroad, removed from the BC Bubble, I was able to evaluate things in a new light. If I had been on campus during the storm, chances are that I would have also complained, joked around about the situation on campus, and so forth. It’s easy to get caught up on campus and forget about the outside world. Not saying that everyone has or did, but admittedly, campus life narrows our scope of vision. Regardless, none of us should lose sight of the crippling damage inflicted this past week. There are more important issues, or moreover, more that we can do than complain about having class or walking in the rain. We live in Massachusetts—I think we can handle some bipolar weather.
Fortunately, Boston barely received the brunt of the storm. At the very least, we should be mindful of our words and actions. You never know who around you has been affected by the destruction Hurricane Sandy has left in its path, whether it be the damage of one’s property, loss of one’s home, loss of a loved one, or sorrow for the losses of others. As a community, very well populated with students all over the afflicted areas, we share the responsibility of serving as a support system. We’ve heard it time and time again: “Be men and women for others.” With times of crises like this, it’s our chance to do just that.