Storm and Calm
Having lived in Vermont for 20 years, I've become a hardy Yankee, often rolling my eyes when people start talking excitedly about the weather. We get it all up here - piles of snow, howling winds, torrential downpours, impressive thunderstorms, bitter cold, freezing rain, drippingly hot and humid days - and there have been very few events that slow down life on campus and around the Green Mountains.
And so it was, too, with Hurricane Sandy last fall. There were predictions of high winds but the day was bright and beautiful and despite the radar images and news predictions, the earliest reports weren't too concerning as the storm traveled up the southern coast.
I'm a native of New York's "forgotten borough" of Staten Island, and I monitored the storm's progress the way these things are done these days, by checking out friends' Facebook status updates and calling my family, all of whom, in the late afternoon and early evening, reported some wind but nothing too terrible. I might have even rolled my eyes a bit.
And then as night fell, the storm tore with terrifying intensity into the places I grew up loving: the Jersey Shore. Staten Island. Lower Manhattan. Brooklyn. Queens. Long Island. Facebook had updates of pure terror - people trapped, houses flooded, neighborhoods inundated, streets washed away.
By morning, although I woke in Vermont, my head and heart were in Staten Island, where the destruction in certain parts was unimaginable. My family does not live near the hardest hit neighborhoods, but some of my childhood friends did, and lost everything. Their losses, and much worse, was multiplied tens of thousands of times over across the city, and its surroundings. I felt stunned, numb, helpless.
Campus reaction to the destruction and suffering was swift and deeply compassionate, and reminded me, once again, why Saint Michael's is a remarkable place to be. Those who knew my connection to Staten Island called and visited and asked about my family; when I said that they were fine but I had friends in need, donations showed up at my office. The Edmundites made a scholarship gift to my niece's high school. Offers of aid and words of comfort abounded and brought me back from my shock and sorrow.
In Waves, we tell Saint Michael's stories of loss and assistance in the wake of the storm. We know there are many other stories to share and to tell. My own story is minor, so far removed from the heart of the storm that it may produce an eye roll. But my own gratitude to Saint Michael's and its true embodiment of compassionate community is great. +
- Caroline Crawford, Editor