My experience with Hurricane Sandy was not the traditional story of branches falling on my car, loss of power in my house or tragic damage to my hometown. In fact, my hometown was not only unaffected by Hurricane Sandy, but they were not even aware.
On the first two nights of the storm, I stayed in New Jersey at a friend’s house. We camped out on an air mattress on the first floor of her house, heard trees falling on the roof of her second floor and waited in candlelight while the power was out. While there was power, the television was constantly on the news, specifically, news of Long Beach Island. The only way to describe the damage to LBI was devastating. My friend completely lost her summer home and town—and I still could barely relate to the destruction of Sandy.
Once I realized we had school off for an entire week, the only thing I wanted to do was go home, so three of my high school friends and I road tripped back to Chicago on Wednesday. After waiting in line for gas for 40 minutes, arriving back to a pitch-black Lehigh and packing enough clothes for a week, we were off. Upon arriving in Clarendon Hills, IL, I have never been happier to be away from the chaos. There is something about being surrounded by devastation that makes you want nothing but your family. Clarendon Hills was calm—something I hadn’t seen in a while.
In the following days, I went to dinner with my parents at one of the local restaurants. Being a small town, I saw many familiar faces. “Oh, Andrea, is it your fall break?” This was the most commonly asked question I got while I was home. People know that I go to school on the East Coast; they were just completely oblivious to the extent of the damage Sandy caused. When I told people that I was home because my school was shut down from the hurricane, the next question I got was usually, “Oh my gosh, is the flooding really that terrible on your campus?” No, not exactly.
After the brisk passing with ignorance I encountered in my hometown, I was inspired by this media project. I wasn’t inspired just to simply raise money for the cause, but I wanted to raise awareness for the cause. It was crazy to me that no one knew anything about the Hurricane that caused the most damage to the Subway’s entire history, extreme power outages across the East Coast, the obliteration of the Jersey Shore, and deaths spanning from Haiti to Connecticut. So, as I started this media project to raise money for Sandy victims, I took it upon myself to e-mail, Facebook, video chat, text and call everyone from my town that I thought would like to hear a story about a hurricane—a hurricane that may not have affected them, but a hurricane that affected people just a few states away. I hope my efforts through this project has raised awareness in places other than the East Coast, and even if it hasn’t yet, there is still time for EVERYONE—across the states—to make a difference.
#COMM30Sandy is an online class project for the Media & Society class at Lehigh University, taught by professor Jeremy Littau. You can donate to our campaign at this link, and for more information you can email Prof. Littau at firstname.lastname@example.org.