What My Family Learned from Hurricane Sandy

I'm sure my family was like many other families earlier this week. We sat at home closely monitoring the likely path of Hurricane Sandy. We called, texted and emailed our friends and families to get the latest, on-the-ground news. And, we shared our well wishes, concerns and feelings of hope. But, I know my family was a lucky one. We were in Chicago and not on the East Coast.

At home in Chicago we were safe and sheltered from the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in states like New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and others. We only had to prepare for stronger than normal wind gusts for our aptly named Windy City and watch the rising sprays of water as the waves pounded hard against the shores of Lake Michigan. We didn't have to put out sandbags to block flooding waters. We didn't need to worry about trees that could fall on homes and cars. We didn't need to stock up on water and nonperishable items. And, we didn't need to wait in harm's way for the unpredictable but inevitable wind and rains to come. But, throughout that whole time our hearts and minds were with everyone who did all that and more.

Understanding the Strength of Connections with People Everywhere

While my husband and I try to expose our sons to the wonders of our diverse world through our travels abroad and our visits to the neighborhoods of Chicago, it's aways the hardest to show them the true impact and benefit of connecting with others - no matter where they live, how they look or what they believe. That is really what we want to drive home and make come alive for them as we introduce them to other people, other cultures and other cities. And, it is that very thing, that very feeling, that very connection that rang true for all of us this week.

In the days leading up to the storm we all anxiously looked at the map of the world, checking to see how one approaching storm could potentially do so much damage and effect so many people. As we tracked the storm, we talked about how everyone in its path was at risk - no matter what. My sons empathized with (as much as two young boys are able to) other children in other places who were in potential danger. They saw, even at their young ages, that we're all susceptible to struggles and challenges, or in this case, the wrath of one approaching storm.

And, thanks to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, we were able to see more of the story - the places, homes and towns that were being prepared for the storm. We saw photos of grocery store shelves wiped clean. We saw images of trees people hoped wouldn't fall down on their homes. And, we saw pictures of people's favorite vacation spots threatened by flooding. But, we also saw people coming together to check on the wellbeing of others, welcome neighbors into their still-with-power homes, and celebrate the strength of us all.

Celebrating the Spirit of People Everywhere - Today and Always

So as the winds die down in our Windy City and the waves start to subside on Lake Michigan, we are trying hard to keep our sons' interest in, and empathy for, other people alive. While it's easy to forget the effects of the storm as it dissipates and people feverishly work to rebuild and move ahead, we want our sons to remember the connection they felt to others.

We're making calls to family and friends effected by Hurricane Sandy to get the latest tales of strength and perseverance. We're looking at picture after picture on Facebook, Twitter and Instragram to see how everyone is doing with each passing moment. We're watching the news to see how cities are already starting to get back on track and back to business. And, we're talking about what we can do to help out. Even though we're in Chicago, our thoughts and hearts are with the people of the world impacted by Hurricane Sandy and those faced with other struggles and adversity.

So, as we prepare to head out to trick or treat here in the Windy City, it has become even more meaningful to carry the UNICEF boxes my sons brought home from school. It is change we hope to collect so that positive change can happen for others. And, we know we are lucky to be able to wear dry clothes, put on our Halloween costumes as planned, and walk in light-filled streets to our neighbors' warm homes.

Here's to world citizens - and the people impacted by Hurricane Sandy.


My older son's picture of a haunted house. It's surrounded by a ghost, spider, bat, witch and Hurricane Sandy.

Leave a comment