Being from California, when I heard the news that a major hurricane was heading for the East Coast I was, I have to admit, a little excited. The torrential rains and the near 90 mph wind speeds all sounded interesting, and, for lack of a better word, fun; I thought the hurricane would be another fun East Coast experience. I was all ready to go outside once the storm really hit (against my worried parent’s wishes). But then to my surprise, Lehigh was not hit that hard. I couldn’t visibly see any trees down around my house, and we had gotten hardly any rain. We had lost power, but after the snowstorm that hit Lehigh at the same time last year, losing power was not a new or fearful concept. To me Sandy had not lived up to its hype. Then the horror stories started to come in. Friends right and left from different areas of New Jersey, New York, and other northeast states were recounting the news they had heard from their towns. My elementary school was flooded. All the power lines in my county are down. A fallen tree crushed my garage. My entire sections of my town were destroyed. The stories of damages were infinite.
While back home in Los Angeles for thanksgiving break some friends who stayed local to the West Coast for college asked me how I fared during “that storm.” The hurricane that destroyed many of my friends’ homes and impacted all of them in some way was not even remembered by its name on the West Coast; it was just that storm they heard briefly on the news or saw the headline of in the paper. This is not to say they were not sympathetic or unwilling to help those impacted by the storm, they were, but it is hard to put some of the reports of destruction into perspective when the worst weather we get in LA is a little rain. As I told them of the damages caused to many towns and cities I got many responses all along the lines of "oh I know. It's terrible." End of the conversation, and on to a new topic. A few years ago before I came to the East Coast for school I probably would have had a similar reaction; one that is sympathetic but ultimately not that engaged since it did not personally affect me. Now, being on the other side of the situation and seeing the damage caused by a natural disaster like this, I realize how important it is to come to the aid of our fellow Americans even when we ourselves were not personally affected.
Where the topic of Sandy was probably a center of discussion at most East Coast thanksgivings, it was only brought up when I was explaining our class project to raise relief funds for Sandy victims. Even if Sandy did not personally affect you, it is important to remember the millions of people that were affected and the many that are still being affected by the devastation cause by Sandy. Help those still in need by donating today at: http://www.indiegogo.com/comm30sandy
#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 infomation you can email Prof. Littau at jeremy.littau(at)lehigh.edu.