As Hurricane Sandy rolled into New York City, I was communing with 300 other like-minded female entrepreneurs at Marie Forleo's annual Rich Happy and Hot Live three-day extravaganza at Donna Karan's beautiful Urban Zen Center in the West Village. Midway through Sunday's program, Marie asked all of us who lived in Manhattan. About 30 percent of the crowd raised their hands. Then she asked how many Manhattanites would be willing to share their home/couch/floor with stranded attendees.
Almost all of the hands went up a second time, including my own.
In a crisis, acts of heroism abound and our true nature is revealed. Yes, there have been reports of looting, but given the scale of the power outage, those reports are minimal in comparison to the reports of selfless giving and love.
I would like to share some of those stories.
I have many friends visiting from other cities and countries who came to attend Marie Forleo's event and planned on staying through this weekend for Hay House's "I Can Do It! Ignite" conference, which, unfortunately, is now postponed until February, thanks to Sandy. Now stuck in New York with no idea of when they'll be able to catch the next flight out, what could have been a lonely situation has turned into connection and bonding. Many of us New Yorkers have opened our homes and couches to these friends, some of whom we've never actually met in person but just through our online and social media communities.
A pal from high school told me that on Sunday night all of the high rises around her lost power due to a large tree falling on the lines. Instead of waiting until Sandy was in full destruction mode, her neighbors got their trucks and chains and worked through the night to safely remove the tree from the street, which also happens to be a major thoroughfare for emergency vehicles. These folks put themselves in harm's way so others could get the help they need.
A Facebook friend said that her in-laws live in New Jersey, where their entire neighborhood was (and is still) without power. Her father-in-law is now known as the "coffee guy" because, every morning since Sandy's arrival, he cranks up his outside gas grill and makes hot coffee for the neighbors and emergency workers. A small act of kindness that can make a sleep-deprived utility worker feel human and appreciated!
Another friend's teenage son found a dog in a crate left on a busy road. He took the dog and found him a home with a family that plans to keep him. "The dog is warm and safe with a new family who already loves him," she wrote. Somehow, thinking of that cold, wet, terrified pooch snuggled up to his new family safe and sound made me bawl!
A very close friend's mother lives in Queens and is on oxygen. When the power went out, so did her ability to breathe. When the EMT worker arrived, my friend asked how he was (because he looked like hell), and he told her, with tears in his eyes, that the night before his house was burned to the ground in the fire that leveled 80 homes in Breezy Point, Queens. She hugged him and said she would pray for his family and thanked him for his selfless service. Then he continued to fulfill his oath to "serve unselfishly and continuously in order to help make a better world for all mankind." Amen.
Many of you may have already read about our NYC hospital heroes, but it bears repeating. New York University Medical Center started to flood with upward of 10 feet of water by Monday night. The main power went out, and then the back-up generator failed. Committed hospital workers evacuated the entire hospital one patent at a time. Some were painstakingly carried down 17 flights of stairs in the dark. CBS reporter Jonathan LaPook writes that he saw crews moving babies from the neonatal intensive care unit. Four of the critical infants were on respirators without a battery backup, so the nurses had to manually pump them to keep them alive. The patients were all successfully transferred to nearby hospitals.
"These nicu nurses didn't sleep, and didn't go home. their smiles say it all. the babies transported during #Sandy are all doing well. @mountsinainyc" -- Dr. Sanjay Gupta's Twitter Feed, http://twitpic.com/b8wozf
Finally, a heartfelt shout-out of gratitude to all of the first responders, utility workers, and armed service personnel who came from near and far and are still working tirelessly to help the Tri-State area.
I hope these stories inspire you and lift your spirits, no matter where you live. If you want to be a part of the solution and show your support for your East Coast bothers and sisters affected by Sandy, here are ways to help.
The following are reputable 501(c)3 nonprofits and government agencies:
1. United Global Shift's Virtual Food Drive (just happens to have been co-founded by one of my nearest and dearest pals Josselyne Herman Saccio)
2. For those of you in and near New York who want to volunteer to help with clean up, please email email@example.com.
3. Give blood: redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
4. NY Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NYVOAD)
6. Daily Candy NYC Edition has some ways to "Help NYC Bounce Back."
7. Mashable has "7 Ways to Help Victims of Superstorm Sandy Online."
Also, please share your own stories of kindness during Sandy or any other crisis to help us all remember our essential goodness. A kind word from you can boost and uplift a person in need. Let's mobilize our amazing fearless community and do some good!
Sending you love and light and, as always, take care of you.
Love Love Love,