Editorial: Response to Superstorm Sandy Becomes More Inspirational with Each Passing Day

NY Daily News - November 02, 2012

Amid death and devastation, huge emergencies and nagging inconveniences, the people of this city and region are showing the resolve for which they are justifiably known.

Tough times bring out the best in New Yorkers, and the response to superstorm Sandy becomes more inspirational with each passing day.

Amid death and devastation, huge emergencies and nagging inconveniences, the people of this city and region are showing the resolve for which they are justifiably known. As the song might now go, if you can remake it here, you can remake it anywhere.

High on the list of true-blue troupers are the subway and bus crews who have come up big in the drive to get the city rolling again. They are behind the wheel and at the controls, and, even more important, they are laboring below ground in wet, dark places that are foreign to all the rest of us.

Day and night, track workers, switch specialists, electricians, pump operators and more are getting the job done out of pride in their work and dedication to their fellow New Yorkers. Transport Workers Union chief John Samuelsen and his members are playing critical roles in a time of crisis.

Also to be recognized for service above and beyond are the utility workers who are throwing expertise and grueling hours into repowering the city by replacing damaged transformers and reconnecting downed wires. If progress seems slow, for sure it's not for lack of effort by Con Edison's rank and file and the thousands of colleagues who have joined the fight from other locations.

These two armies - transit and electric - are shouldering the central burdens. But so many others have pitched in with extraordinary service - and they, too, must be recognized.

While the scope of the disaster was only becoming clear, cops and firefighters risked their lives, braving raging floodwaters and downed live power lines to bring residents of besieged areas to safety. Though many Finest and Bravest live in some of the hardest-hit neighborhoods, they put aside their own hardships while helping their fellow New Yorkers survive.

For at least one, that heroism proved fatal. As the waters rose on Staten Island on Monday night, off-duty Police Officer Artur Kasprzak, 28, herded six members of his family, including a 15-month-old, to safety in his attic. He then ventured downstairs to check on conditions in his basement - and didn't come up. His body was found Tuesday morning, one of at least 39 fatalities across the city.

Boundless thanks to those who kept the tragic toll as amazingly low as it was.

NYPD and National Guard helicopter crews made spectacular airlift rescues of people stranded on roofs in Hoboken and on Staten Island.

Nurses and hospital personnel performed miracles in the worst of the storm, putting in IV lines by flashlight and tending to every other need under battlefield conditions. Then, they executed remarkable evacuations and transferred patients, many of them critically ill, to other hospitals as their institutions were knocked out of commission.

So many other city, state and federal workers are doing their part that the full roster may sadly never be recognized. They know who they are and how much they have done.

And then there are the volunteers.

All over Facebook and Twitter, ordinary people - New Yorkers and non - have been asking how they can help.

Even without a coordinated effort, neighbors are sharing what they have with those in need. Shop owners set up power strips outside stores so people without juice could charge their cell phones. Teachers have shown up at emergency shelters to lend their strong arms and emotional support to evacuees. In hard-hit New Jersey, people posted on Twitter the locations of gas stations that still had fuel and had working pumps.

So what can you do?

Some 6,800 New Yorkers are still housed in emergency shelters. Volunteers are needed to staff the facilities during the day and overnight, while the Red Cross cites a need for people who can act as translators and for professionals who can provide basic legal advice or accounting assistance to victims.

Food distribution sites need people to hand out provisions. According to Mayor Bloomberg, donations of canned goods are not much help. But cash donations are welcome. And as always during disasters, blood is in exceedingly short supply. If you can, give.

Local groups and larger organizations are posting what they need, and where, on Twitter, hashtag #sandyvolunteer. The NYCService portion of the official city web site, nyc.gov, lists volunteer opportunities, a place where you can leave your contact information and an Office of Emergency Management link for donating cash and products. FEMA is reachable at Disasterassistance.gov.

Thank you, one and all.