Here we are, heading out to Rockaway Beach this past Memorial Day, a classic American beach day at the gorgeous height of summer, Sweetheart’s beach block entrance, Beach 141st. Here it is now:The sea was angry that day, my friends. We’ve been out in Rockaway every day since last Wednesday, when the news told us that the Marine Park Bridge- the only way to access our end of the four-block-wide strip of sand that is Rockaway- was closed, but we went out anyway. What to even say about it all? What has happened out there is truly horrific: terrifying on the scale of what the sea can do, terrible to see the ever-mounting piles of sewage-sodden garbage constituting the entirety of people’s lives out on their curbs, the oil slick pump-water streaming down every street, eddying around wedding albums and heirlooms, cutting through the four feet of sand that covers the streets like snow, the houses ripped in half, bricks missing like gap teeth, ten feet of sea-wall strewn about like playing cards, tragedies abounding on a scale of wonder- huge and monolithic and seemingly impossible to process.Yet- as insignificant as our humanity is in the face of tragedy, in the face of nature, as insignificant as our humanity is to withstand storm surge and loss of power and loss of life, Our Humanity is strong. It is a goosebump thing, a tear welling thing, a wondrous thing to see and feel. “How can I help?”. Our friends, our dear dear friends, a different crew every day, to lift and pull and pump, to clean out and purge, to hold us up and watch us cry and to help us yell at the sky. And then the neighbors come. And then the strangers come. To Help. Alone, together, by car, by bus, when the gas ran out, by bike, offering water, hot food, coffee (the holy grail), then later- tools, masks, gloves, contractor bags, help- hands, hundreds of hands. And the constant refrain, that everyone says: “We are so lucky, so many have it so much worse than we do”. And it’s true.
And bless Dan, Maggie, Molly, Lucy, Jocie, Julia, Chris, Fran, Seth, Tony, Eben, JJ, Aly, Paul, and John for helping our little family. And bless Jay for all of that and more.
From our experience on the ground, The Occupy Movement has put together the best real-time volunteer infrastructure. To volunteer, go here. Bless You. Bless You All.