My family can’t seem to not have front-row seats to natural disasters this year.
My sister, Mom and Dad endured the smoke-strangled skies of July’s 18,000-acre Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs.
Now, not to be left out it would seem, my little brother watched oceans rise and cloudbursts fall while winds uprooted trees and whole East Coast towns went the way of Atlantis.
He lives in New York City, one of many metropolises besieged by a monster of a Storm named Sandy, which made landfall Monday.
The ordeal terrified my mom. I’ve been a little worried myself. I’ve always thought of my brother, Blake, as a resourceful dude, a survivor. But the scenes I’m seeing on the news look like they’re straight out of “The Day After Tomorrow.” Cars float in pools, Micro-Machines-in-the-bathtub-style. Thick, muscular trees that have to have been there since the War of 1812 got pulled up like weeds. Whole towns are submerged in water.
It sounds like Blake rode out the worst of it. He stayed in an apartment with friends over on 66th Street and Central Park West. It’s the same building “Ghostbusters” was filmed in. The group stayed inside, drank wine, ate and watched movies.
“We’re really lucky to be where we are,” he says. “This apartment building is really, really well-designed. There’s no damage to it.”
Outside is different. He can see the crane over on 57th Street that snapped and is dangling 1,000 feet up. There are banners wrapped around poles. CNN’s Columbus Circle sign went out during the night. The subway platform at 145th that Blake uses frequently is completely underwater.
“There’s a huge tree that I can see right now that’s completely snapped and gone,” he says.
Still, he slept through the night. He wasn’t ever scared, it seems.
“I just don’t have the perspective for natural disasters because I was not raised in a state where they occurred,” he says. “Growing up we didn’t have any sort of comprehension or education about it. Yeah, there were tornadoes, but we never saw them. Yeah, there were lightning storms, but they didn’t do anything.”
He’s absolutely right. But for a big fire or two – ones that are way out in the woods – Colorado doesn’t have an apocalyptic feel to it.
But there is a similarity between New York City and Colorado, Oregon even. Call it instinctual, but people just really seem to know it’s time to step up and help strangers out when nature or God (or both, if you wish) decides to pull the trigger. Blake’s one of them. He’s going out to volunteer today, breaking this 48-hour Cabin Fever bug he’s been fighting.
I was proud when he told me that. I’m sure if I told him that he’d just say “Whatever” and brush it off like it was no big deal, because it wouldn’t be to him. He’s like that when it comes to these things. I’d like to think most people are.
If you want to help, but don’t have the means to make the 3,000-mile trip, the American Red Cross has a spot on their website where you can make donations. Check it out. I’m heading there when I finish this.
Blake’s probably just a few minutes from going outside. If it’s still anything like he described it to me, it’s a cloudy, wet day, but you can see the sun.
“It’s beautiful out,” he says. “It looks like a normal day again.”