MARLO THOMAS

Hurricane Sandy Unites New Yorkers -- Again

10/31/2012 11:20 am ET | Updated Oct 31, 2012

Our colleague Bruce Kluger wrote this wonderful piece in USA Today that we'd like to share with you. Everyone affected by Storm Sandy is in our thoughts. - MT

By Bruce Kluger

As the east coast picks herself up from the fury of Hurricane Sandy, here in Manhattan we're still assessing the damage. Subways remain flooded, half the island is without power and, tragically, the death toll continues to rise.

And yet the City is infused with a sense of community. This is what New Yorkers do best. We survive.

I recognized this feeling of solidarity as early as Monday afternoon, as Sandy barreled toward us, blowing 80 miles-per-hour winds and carrying a ton of rain. The scene outside my window was eerily placid, save the sound of a distant howl. It was literally the calm before the storm.

I ran to the supermarket to stock up on milk. At the time, reports said we’d be dug in for a few days. If that was the case, milk was mandatory -- for the kids’ cereal, and for my wife’s and my coffee. Then again, what if we had no power?

I couldn’t help but notice the faces of my fellow New Yorkers as I passed them on the street. We shared quick glances and half-smiles, then shrugged at each other as if to say, “Who knows?” I was reminded of that awful day in September 2001, when Manhattan was under siege. We shared glances back then, too, as we ran to collect our children from school or check on loved ones. But on that day, there were no half-smiles on our faces. Just worry.

Much is written about the peculiarity of New York City -- our bluer-than-blue politics, our white-collar professionals, our red-blooded crackpots. But since moving here in 1978, I’ve grown to appreciate the camaraderie we share, especially when we’re coping with common angst.

A month after I arrived here, all three of New York’s daily newspapers went on strike, leaving a town of news junkies, sports fans and coupon-clippers bereft. While I can’t recall how we managed this burden, I vividly remember walking to work the day after strike ended, and seeing a sidewalk vendor selling t-shirts bearing the slogan, “I Survived the Great Newspaper Strike of 1978.” That’s New York.

As I scrolled through emails on Monday -- many from acquaintances across the country, checking on my family’s safety -- my friend Denise, who lives up the street, left a message on my answering machine. “Hey, Bunker One, it’s Bunker Two,” she said with a laugh. “Just checking to see if you’re all locked down, too. Give us a call. Obviously, we’re home.”

The next message was from my pal David, who was driving back from Connecticut, in a breakneck race with Sandy to see who could get here first.

“I’m trying to make it in before the bridges close,” David said. “I can’t wait to turn on the news when I get home. I’m dying to find out if Mother Nature endorses Obama or Romney.”

David’s comment made me smile. It also made me realize that, for the first time in months, the election was not dominating the media. Imagine that: no bombshells from the campaign trail, no recriminations from the candidates, no blistering attack ads. Instead, just a steady stream of storm updates and helpful reports on how best to take care of ourselves -- and each other.

Why must it always take something like a hurricane -- or a news blackout, or a terrorist strike -- to remind us that we’re all in this together?

The tide will eventually recede here in New York -- it always does -- and take with it the memory of Sandy’s wrath. I just wish this sense of unity could linger a little longer. It is the one thing the storm brought that’s worth saving.

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