Storms can bring out the best in people as well
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Taking a bite out of the Big Apple during a hurricane is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. New York City, admittedly, presents challenges when you visit from your small-town life on St. Thomas. Try driving down the street and coming across a huge flock of pigeons. Try crossing a street in Midtown along with 300 people and trying to avoid thousands of taxis. And, try navigating in a sea of millions everyday.
But the Big Apple is worth every minute of every day of your visit. And when the news comes that a once-in-several-decades hurricane is on the way, New York City springs into action, leaving annoyances like pigeons in the dust.
Hurricane Sandy decided to pay a visit to New York at the same time as I did. And a funny thing happened when the news came that a monster storm was approaching. For anyone that thought New York City was very different from St.Thomas, I offer you the following.
Forget about all you have ever heard about New Yorkers who don't care, and forget all you ever heard about New Yorkers who you think are rude, pushy and just plain in a rush all day long. Forget any preconceived notions you ever had, any crazy New York stories you have ever heard, and throw them all out the window.
New York City stepped up to the plate for this hurricane. Going to the grocery store with thousands of people became a fun adventure. People were on long lines and the bread shelves were empty. Cases of water were being carried out by the dozens and the parking lots were full of hundreds of cars. There was not a shopping cart to be found. And yet, the entire situation worked like a well-oiled machine. People were friendly, talking and sharing on the long lines.
I felt right at home. When someone was disappointed that the bread was gone, other shoppers pointed out racks of English muffins, also pointing out that you buy one package and get two free. The last cases of water were shared with others.
As far as shopping carts went, there was a method to the madness. People offered their carts to the elderly first and others good naturedly went along with the system.
When on the long lines to check out, people shared carts with those holding their groceries in their arms. Gas lines were 50 cars long at the pumps and everyone had a smile on their faces.
Hard to believe, but true. And I felt right at home. Everyone was in it together and everyone pulled together.
People were calling friends, neighbors and co-workers to ask if they were being evacuated and did they need help or a place to stay. Everyone was picking up batteries and flashlights for each other, and most importantly, everyone shared all they had. People wished each other good luck and told each other to stay safe.
No one does a hurricane like the Virgin Islands, and we have experienced our fair share of them. There is something unique about being in a natural disaster, and we know the feeling of dread when we hear the news that Mother Nature is playing a trick on us. And yet, one thing you find out is that people are people, and when push comes to shove, we are all in it together
- Maria Ferreras, St. Thomas.