Ten Things I Learned From Sandy

The destruction left in Hurricane Sandy's wake includes the loss of more than 100 lives and estimated damage upwards of $60 billion. But people affected by Sandy have also expressed gratitude for lessons learned after the storm. Here, Huff/Post50 blogger Deborah Gaines shares the 10 things she's learned post Sandy.

1. Past events are not accurate predictors of future occurrences.
Hurricane Irene passed with barely a flicker -- I think I lost cable for two hours -- so I thumbed my nose at Sandy. Bad move. A 100-foot hemlock crashed less than a foot from my house, bringing down a telephone pole and draping the roof with a Christmas display's worth of live wires.

2. It's not over 'til it's over.
We survived 12 hours of howling winds, nightmarish thumping and freakish flying objects only to find that the fun was just beginning. Such treats included leaving my car on the side of the road last Tuesday when the gas ran out, and waking up this morning in a freezing house with the power company refusing to even estimate a restoration date.

3. After the second day, forget about saving the food.
Throw out perishables or (if possible) donate them to people in need.

4. Respect the gulf between haves and have-nots.
My boss never lost power and lives walking distance from the office; he's back to business as usual. But I can't finish that "urgent" brochure when I haven't had computer access for a week. Similarly, my ex-husband (who has heat) tried to engage me in a long conversation about feeding our son more vegetables. Yeah, as soon as I can cook them, I'll get right on that.

5. Laughter makes everything better. So does sex.

6. Little things mean a lot.
Daily messages and texts from friends and family have been my lifelines. I'm so grateful to the coffee shop that let me charge my cell phone and the hair salon offering free shampoos that I get verklempt just thinking about them.

7. Give help.
A neighbor with power refused to let us run an extension cord through their window because "it would get drafty." As my brother said, "Karma is designed for people like that."

8. Accept help.
This is no time to be a martyr, especially when kids are concerned. A couple of days of roughing it "Little House on the Prairie"-style are fine, but don't wait for the coughing to set in before taking refuge somewhere warm.

9. Redefine "essential."
Unless you're an emergency responder, do you really need to spend four hours on a gas line or half a day getting to the office?

10. Appreciate every moment.
And not just because you're alive (although that too, of course). Appreciate the games of Connect Four, the spontaneous rendition of "Bohemian Rhapsody," the taste of your first cup of coffee in four days. Hug your kids when they drive you batshit. Thank your spouse for loving you when you're cranky and foul-smelling.

It's all a hell of a lot better than the alternative.