How can any of us go about our daily lives as if nothing had happened? We learn to look away from, if not entirely ignore, human suffering in other parts of the world, but it ought not to be possible to act inured to disaster closer to home.
The incongruity of the tasks I have had in front of me this week with the conditions among thousands of others a scant 80 miles away, whose work has been put on hold or, perhaps more to the point, whose lives are at risk, is unnerving. Here on the East End, where no one lost all their possessions, where, with one tragic exception, almost no one suffered personal harm as a result of flooding or power failure, you might say that the rug was pulled out from under us, but only so far.
My job at The Star since Hurricane Sandy has been, as always, to help get it out. I’ve also been editing our annual holiday supplement, which will be in the paper next week. As a result, I have been far removed from the devastation elsewhere, thinking about pleasant things: knitted scarves and socks, children’s books, tree ornaments, holiday music, for example. I also have been immersed in the minutiae that goes into the production of what is, to all extents and purposes, a magazine — not to mention a huge calendar of events that stretches from Thanksgiving to New Year’s.
The columns I write, such as this, are usually about 400 or 500 words long. Imagine coping with a list of events that contains 3,764 words. (At least that’s how many words Microsoft Word tallied when I last looked.)
Next week’s Star is the Thanksgiving edition, but many of us have been conscious of how much we on eastern Long Island have to be thankful for. Sandy gave us what almost amounted to a forgiving blow while it spent its fury to the west.
This week, The Star, and its Web site, report on the phenomenal efforts being made by East Enders to help those in distress. Many have gone UpIsland to join in. The Sag Harbor Fire Department has donated an ambulance. East End Cares, a group recently organized in Montauk, has sent volunteers to the St. Francis de Sales neighborhood of the Rockaways.
If, like me, your only way of trying to help is financial, let me suggest that you consider Paddlers for Humanity, another local organization, which is accepting donations for East End Cares. Its East Hampton address is P.O. Box 2555 and its Web site is p4h.org.