Monday, November 12, 2012

Nerves are Fraying

Today was a very intense day out at Rockaway, Broad Channel and Howard Beach.  After two weeks of dealing with the aftermath of the hurricane, people are beginning to get angry and impatient.  As they move beyond shock and disbelief, they are left with the reality of their situations, which for most, are grim.  

They are still without water and without electricity.  Frustrating is when the houses across the street or on the other side of the block or even worse, the house next door, has the electricity turned on, but they themselves are still without, left in the dark and in the cold.  

Not having access to water to shower or wash their hair is leaving many feeling embarrassed and wanting to isolate, but with homes being dark, cold and smelling of rot, where can they go to be alone?  The shelters are filled with people and there's no real privacy.  So, good options are few.

I met a couple who were sitting in their car in front of their house, waiting for the insurance agent.  When I spoke with them, they had been waiting nearly four hours.  They were in the car because the car had heat, unlike the house.  With the city rationing gas, being in the car with it running for hours was a concern.  Though this couple was taking the situation in stride and working to look at the bright side, the toll was visible on their faces, etched with worry lines and dark circles beneath their eyes.
Even the nerves of the most optimistic are beginning to fray.

Everywhere I walked today and then when riding on the buses and on the subway, I heard people sharing stories with one another, from the horror of finding a neighbor drowned, to the anger at waiting for FEMA or Con Edison (the electric company) or the insurance adjusters or the contractors or..., to the concern that they smell, to the worry that missing so much work will mean they'll lose their jobs, to wondering how to pay the bills when they have to pay contractors too.  And on and on and on the list of concerns go, voices edging towards panic.

This isn't to say that they aren't grateful for the assistance they've received, including food, blankets, jackets, kerosense heaters, gas, hot coffee, bottled water, cleaning supplies, facemasks, shelter, volunteers aiding with cleanup, etc. etc.  It's that this gratitude is beginning to be overshadowed by the frustration and the uncertainty of the future.

The emotions displayed today are complicated.  Everywhere you look in these communitie,s you are surrounded by destruction.  How do you find peace amidst such devastation?


Josiane Bauke said...

These are amazing photos! You have such a unique perspective.

This emotional rollar coaster you are riding is developing your mind's eye, which is a good thing. Hang on tight! :)

Christina Whiting said...

Thanks for the encouragement Josie.