THE BLOG

Lessons Learned From Hurricane Sandy and How We Need to Apply Them Everyday

11/06/2012 02:35 pm ET | Updated Jan 06, 2013
  • Ronnie Cameron Defensive tackle, Philadelphia Eagles/ Founder & CEO of BonfireImpact.com

Hurricane Sandy has caused mass devastation and has ruined the lives of many. People have died and homes have been destroyed. It is difficult to see any silver lining when millions are out of power (as I was also) and people are running low on food and water as they try to pull things together. I am a native New Yorker and it hurts to see New York, New Jersey and Connecticut in anguish. But we will grow, rebuild and become even stronger. There are many lessons to be learned from this historic and tragic event. These lessons need to be applied to our everyday lives, not only in tragedy.

1. People are essentially good. As Hurricane Sandy ravaged the New York Tri-state area, the country was coming together in a unique fashion. Power company workers and volunteers from around the nation were mobilizing toward the ravaged area. You had strangers picking each other up and supporting each other. People come together in rough times and this was evident in the face of this storm. Homes were lost but people lent out extra beds to their neighbors who they may have never spoken to. There were people giving out their power and electricity to anyone walking by on the street. There was a utopian society built in a city of rubble and dismay and it was beautiful. I hope people realize this type of treatment from one person to another can help everyone live a better life.

2. Politicians can work together for the good of the people. When this storm hit, political parties didn't matter. Months of bickering went right out of the window and politicians got things done. Didn't matter what party they were apart of, people were their biggest priority. Gov. Chris Christie, who a week before tongue-lashed President Barack Obama, praised him for his expediency and efficiency in handling the devastation. Gov. Christie cares about the people of New Jersey so he wasn't going to let an upcoming election be a factor in his quick thinking to provide his citizens the help they needed. President Obama wasn't thinking politics when he cut the red tape to provide suddenly homeless people food, water and shelter. Mayor Bloomberg did whatever he needed to do to support New Yorkers in their time of need. Everyone from the New York Tri State area was at a loss, having never dealt with such an issue. Good thing we have elected officials who are more human then they are politicians. This proves it is possible for politicians to set aside their party affiliations to do what's needed for the people. This has to be done on a sunny day in April, not just during a Hurricane in October.

3. North-Easterners are finally sensitive to natural disasters. I am a New Yorker and I usually never deal with extreme weather. We have dealt with extreme heat and cold, but nothing like what Hurricane Sandy brought about. We often read stories about hurricanes in Florida, sandstorms in Oklahoma or mass flooding in New Orleans, but we have never truly known how those people have felt. Although we might read stories like "400 Dead in Mudslide in India" or "Tsunami Killing Thousands in Indonesia," we read past them as if they were normal. We now know devastation. We now know pain and we now know what these people have dealt with. People have grown more sympathetic to situations like this and we will pay more attention next time. Remember some of these places do not have the resources or support that we do here in America, so I hope that people will have grown more thankful for what we have. I hope this sympathetic attitude and raised awareness continues, because the feeling has finally been felt in the Northeast.

4. We need infrastructure change. Hurricane Sandy exposed New York and New Jersey's weak infrastructure. How a storm can cripple the largest city in the western hemisphere is a chilling lesson that we needed to learn. Our buildings, roads, bridges and subways were susceptible to massive damage. We need to finally make changes to the way we do things and how we build things. Hurricane Sandy made many more citizens aware of this issue and more people will push for infrastructure change. Awareness to this issue was necessary, especially in a time where most people are focusing on jobs, the economy and education. This was a hard lesson to learn, but it may have great benefits for all of us in the long run.

These lessons I have written are my observations and many of the observations from New Yorkers and people from New Jersey. We are often captured in our own bubble, but this event has opened the eyes of many people from this region and will hopefully bring about change in a positive way. We have a chance to rebuild ourselves literally and metaphorically. Hopefully we will take that chance.