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« Halloween (Hope) Cake 2012 »

Last Saturday, I spent most of the afternoon making marzipan cake toppers for my annual Halloween cake. Normally, this type of exercise is purely a creative outlet. But last week, it was also a much needed distraction: Meteorologists were predicating that Hurricane Sandy would be working her way up the east coast over the weekend, most likely making landfall in the New York- New Jersey area on Monday. Not a pleasant though, to say the least.

I grew up in a coastal area, where big storms often wrecked havoc. But in NYC, the weather is normally more of an inconvenience than a menace. You know, like trying to hail a yellow cab in the rain. 

This paradigm was certainly challenged last summer, when Mayor Bloomberg ordered a mandatory evacuation of "Zone A" due to Hurricane Irene. Thankfully, NYC was spared the worst of the storm, when she veered northward. And as largely expected, life was back to normal on Monday morning despite the inconvenience.

This time around, I initially stood by the old paradigm. But as Sunday rolled around, the prospect of dodging another bullet seemed more and more unlikely. Then the dreaded call/email arrived:

Your building has been identified by the Office of Emergency Mgmt. for a mandatory evacuation no later than 6pm tonight.  Due to the seriousness of this storm and it's impact, all residents MUST evacuate. This is not optional.  RMC staff will shortly be shutting down building systems and are obligated to evacuate the buildings as well.  As a result, the buildings will have no elevator service after 6pm, or potentially water supply, and we expect to be locking all entrances.  With no staff in the building, you will be placing your household at increased personal risk.  Please know that RMC teams will make every effort to return the building to service as soon as possible when we are allowed to return.  We will keep you informed as more information is available.  Thank you in advance for your cooperation and stay safe!

 So much for creative distractions and neat paradigms. 

I weathered the storm, high and dry in midtown Manhattan. And on Wednesday evening, received this update from my building management:

We were informed by the department of buildings late this afternoon that, unlike the last zone "A" evacuation reoccupy process, building owners must have a New York State licensed professional engineer inspect the building and confirm it is safe for occupancy.

We were able to coordinate an inspection earlier this evening, and the building has met all requirements for you to return to home immediately!

Good news to be sure. But as people slowly filed back into our building on Thursday morning, levity was in short supply. In fact, there was a pervasive heaviness that filled the air. But how could it be otherwise, given the destruction and despair all around us?

I think it is fair to say that Sandy will go down in history as a game changer: socially, emotionally and financially. But I am also convinced that this disaster would have been far worse, if not for an aggressive, organized civic response. (Hello Katrina)

So as we rebuild our communities, I HOPE that this disaster reminds us that:

  • Life is fragile, and people fall on hard times for many complex reasons. And in a democratic society, we need to provide public assistance to help people get back on their feet.
  • We all benefit from government financed health care -- because public facilities like Bellevue Hospital Center (here in NYC) not only care for the poor, but they also train some of the finest physicians in our country. What would we have done without Bellevue trained docs during this crisis?
  • In the midst of a crisis, "big government" is never big enough. 
  • Grass -root efforts make a huge difference. So please pitch in if you can! 

I gave the Halloween (Hope) Cake to the staff in my apartment building as a "thank you" for their assistance during the storm. Because given the gravity of the situation, no act of kindness should go unnoticed.

Reader Comments (3)

Michele you touched my heart! I thank The good Lord that we are all safe and pray for those who are in need of much needed help.
The cake is fabulous! I am sure the staff appreciated it . be well

November 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

Hi, Michelle, Love the "Hope/Halloween" cake and found the narrative provoking much thought. Hope does spring eternal. Reaching out to one another each and every day in small acts of kindnesses that usually go unnoticed, yet, effect the very fiber of our being, is a must. A thank-you multiplies the effect. =) Thanks for sharing. Glad you made out okay, particularly considering the massive devastation in the NYC metropolitan area.

November 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRFC

Ciao Michelle,
ti faccio tanti auguri con tutto il cuore affinchè tu, la tua famiglia e tutti i cittadini di N.Y., possiate superare questo disagio con coraggio e speranza per il futuro.

Dino Cervone e famiglia.

November 6, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdino

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