From Florida to New England, Hurricane Sandy chugged and skirted along the eastern seaboard; leaving toppled trees, dozens of deaths and millions without power in her wake.
It was, no doubt, a terrifying experience for those who’ve never been in the path of a storm this size. For the seasoned “veteran” it was probably exciting. But for the homeless, Sandy’s punishing winds and stinging rain, made a difficult life even more strenuous.
As half-a-million New Yorkers were ordered to evacuate, the New York City Department of Homeless Services re-located nine shelters, displacing many of the 47,000 homeless. Nearly half of which, are children. And just to the south, in our nations capital, the problem isn’t any better. According to the Washington Post, Capital Area Food Bank, Bread for the City, and Martha’s Table, all organizations that help feed the homeless in DC, are now closed because of the storm.
Men’s only! Women’s only! No pets! Separated families and too few beds, are problems homeless shelters face on a daily basis. And while it is normal for shelters to deal with floods of people who live on the street, the floods from this storm forced homeowners to join the ranks of the homeless. A new problem that has turned already crowded shelters into over-capacity refuges. For a while, it seems, all those currently living under the shelters’ roofs are indistinguishably equal.
It is during times like these, however, where people really come together. The media’s stories of survival, rescues and goodwill gestures will flood the airwaves soon. Far outweighing the tales of the opportunists who looted or price gouged in the aftermath. Utility crews from New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma are already on site helping restore power to the nearly 7 million people left without. For those temporarily experiencing what life is like for the homeless, I hope you find your homes still standing when the winds and rains die down. And for those less fortunate, for those who had no home before the storm, I hope some of those stories of goodwill will find their way to you. You certainly deserve it.