Let me Help

It was a beautiful late summer day. The streets were crowded with people milling around. Aimlessly.

“I think we should go down there,” I said.

“Why” my fiancé asked?

“I want to do something. Maybe, we could help somehow.”

“I don’t know. I’m not sure what we could do there.”

“Yeah, dude,” my roommate added. “I don’t even know how we could get there. The subways are not running below 14th.”

“We could walk from 14th. It’s not so far. I want to help out. What good are we doing sitting here?”

The three of us stood outside of the temporary Red Cross building. By the time we had gotten there, they were no longer even taking blood.  All we could offer was dried goods – soap, power bars, etc.

“I think it’s nice that you want to help, but there is nothing we can do,” my fiancé said.

I scoffed in frustration and replied, “I want to see what those bastards did. I want to see with my own eyes.  I want to help. We’re just sitting here. Sucks. I’m going a little crazy here.”

On September 12th, 2001, there were probably many such conversations going on around the city.

It’s natural to want to help others in times of trouble.  When we hear that a friend, neighbor, or family member is ill, one of the first questions we ask is, “How can I help? What can I do?” It is the normal reaction and one that binds us together. People want to help and feel useful. Being productive allows one to feel pride, accomplished and useful.

Since before the storm began, I have felt compelled to organize my home. I have been going through drawers, closets, and desks. Throwing out, straightening up, and sorting through. There is chaos outside my door. Everyday life has been thrown into tumult. However, in my home, I will keep order. I suppose you could call it a coping method. I’d like to think it is a good method – cleaning the house while not driving my family too crazy.

On Tuesday afternoon, I went into my backyard and gathered up the largest limbs that lay strewn about and placed them on the curb. Today, Thursday, I called the Office of Emergency Management a couple of times. I wanted to offer my services – a healthy, relatively strong body. No answer. I spent over an hour and a half raking leaves and gathering sticks. The trashcans are no longer in the garage, the basketball net is no longer on its side, and the outdoor furniture is back on the lawn. Our house looks like it would normally on a fall day.

We remain without power. School is closed for the children and me. My wife’s work place is closed. So, things for us are far from normal.  Yet, many have it much worse and their normal will never be the same. I wish I could help.

30 thoughts on “Let me Help

  1. I can’t imagine life being turned upside down that way. Is something foreign to me, as I’ve never had a natural disaster hit so close to home as it has for you. I hope it starts getting better out there for you and all of your neighbors. I know a couple of people who have children with CF that had to leave due to the power outages. No power means no much needed treatments for their children. So scary to think about that and other families who have it even worse than that. Prayers are with you and the whole area that was affected.

  2. This is an absolutely amazing blog post. I love it.
    Thank you for sharing your view, your experience – and in particular YOUR need to offer your help.
    In many ways it’s kind of a positive article (to know that you and your family are safe is great!) But then – especially within your last paragraph there’s a lot of sadness too.

  3. What a powerful post. I am sorry for your restlessness and the disorder in your life. I am glad you and your family are alright, even if your life right now is not normal. I hope you are able to find a way to help others, even if you simply start in your neighborhood – a single mom or an elderly couple, perhaps. It is frustrating to want to help, to be able to help, but are not able to.

  4. Well written. Being productive makes the chaos of the event have less of an impact. I hope the power comes back on soon and your life will return to normal. Prayers to those whose life has been so affected by the storm that their lives are forever changed.

  5. I love this post. I have been going through the same thing these last few days. I grew up in one of the areas hit hardest by Sandy and have been shocked and saddened and sick looking at the destruction of what I will always consider my home. So far, all I’ve been able to do is donate supplies. I hate feeling this helpless!

  6. The fact that you remember their loved ones, remember the feeling of helplessness, remember the desire to reach out and make a difference, ALL help those left behind after 9/11. Never forget. NEVER let go of that need to help. Sometimes, the very desire to helps makes all the difference in the world.

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