Click here to see what the Literacy Lifeboats Initiative is all about – and ask yourself what you, and perhaps your students or community, can do to help those in need right now.
(Image from the Community Food Bank of New Jersey)
The images are shocking, the stories of survival – and death – grueling, and the reality that people woke up today without a home, a school, a job, or the basic necessities for life is paralyzing.
Super Storm Sandy took on our country in a way most of us thought was impossible. As the hurricane devastated the shores of New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and others on Monday, I ran to my backyard in Georgia to secure objects that were being blown around: pillows, a bird house, a shade umbrella. I couldn’t believe the wind we were feeling, all the way in Athens, Georgia, that was directly connected to the storm battering the northeast. My hair was flying around my face in every direction and trees were bending.
The winds continued on Tuesday, though not nearly as strong, and I watched television and listened to the radio without being able to say a word. Katrina came to mind for so many, though it’s impossible to compare tragedies of one kind to another.
Wednesday I double- and triple-checked my flight that was scheduled from Atlanta to Washington, D.C. and determined that I would travel as planned (to the NAEd Annual Retreat – shout out to everyone there!). D.C. had fortunately dodged the most dangerous parts of the storm. As I left, however, I still didn’t know if I would be flying to New York City on Saturday as I supposed to do (for a fabulous visit with folks at TC! Shout out to you all!).
I was stunned to find out that much of the water had been pumped off the runways at LaGuardia in New York, at least one runway was completely operational, and my flight was scheduled to take off and land on time. Now, given my experience living in nyc, I had serious doubts about whether “on time” was possible under the best circumstances, but I was willing to give it a try. Teachers College (where I was headed) and the surrounding neighborhoods had power and water and had not suffered tremendous damage, so my schedule there was also to move along as planned.
While I was in New York from Saturday until this past Wednesday (barely making it out of LaGuardia before it was shut down again to prepare for the Nor’easter), I stayed away from the areas with the most suffering. I figured if I didn’t have a dump truck for hauling things away, a semi-trailer for bringing needed things in, or at least was a part of an organized group on the ground getting people what they needed, I better not step foot in those communities. The last thing people need in times like this is for tourists to be walking around wide-eyed and open-mouthed.
But my joy of being back in New York with friends and meeting new people was certainly tempered knowing so much suffering was being experienced just beyond the boundaries of my visit. What could I do? I wondered…
So check out the Literacy Lifeboats as one possible way you can help.