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November 21, 2012

Seeking Power From On High

Norman M. Covert

Thanksgiving Day is tomorrow, President Abraham Lincoln said so, and we certainly will be giving thanks to the Heavenly Father; the food on our table just a portion of the blessings we have received the past few weeks.


We need not look far to realize we were spared devastation in the wake of monster storm Hurricane Sandy. At last report power was back on in the county, thus we can defeat the darkness, have heat, our hot and cold water is flowing, gasoline is abundant and our emergency services are poised to respond to any 911 calls – thank you, Lord.


I spent last weekend in Dover, DE, in company with military veteran delegations from Mid-Atlantic States, including New Jersey and New York. What an impact their first-hand accounts about Sandy’s aftermath had on us! More than 50 people lost their lives in the immediate area around New York City.


We were told that relief continues to be a logistical challenge in coastal areas. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is slowly getting its resources flowing and the Red Cross has been making changes to increase its outreach.


Among the barriers to be overcome is the difficulty of access to many victims. The road network, especially on Staten Island, is clogged with homes ripped from foundations and masses of dangerous debris, including electrical poles, lines and transformers.


Those local veteran groups have been raising money and working through their national networks to provide what relief they can. Thousands of dollars have been raised by such private organizations and truckloads of emergency supplies sent from around the nation.


The veterans, who live only a couple hours away, are trucking in water, food, batteries, blankets and personal hygiene items. They express disappointment that they can help only small groups among the population estimated at more than 470,000.


Areas of Long Island, including Far Rockaway, are also devastated! Staten Island, a bedroom borough of New York City, is a short distance east of the Jersey shore. It has lost homes, hospitals, schools, and local emergency services. What electricity is available comes from portable generators.


It isn’t difficult to believe Mother Nature is poised to reclaim Staten Island. The only apparent option for residents and communities is to bulldoze everything and start over. The enormity of the money involved is beyond comprehension. Where the residents will go is another story, too.


The prospect of fixing existing buildings and homes is said by experts to be slim to none. Those who have lost their homes and possessions find it hard to accept that assessment.


The critical utility infrastructure no longer exists on much of Staten Island. Consider that the storm ripped up systems which supply water, and carry out sewerage and storm water.


The Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), which still has a solid connection to electrical supplies, has been unable to make much headway in restoring power. Management apparently failed to plan for other than small contingencies, its supply of something as simple as poles woefully inadequate. Restoring power will be a long-term effort.


Thanksgiving Day will be a “like always” for many Americans, including here in Frederick. However, New Jersey’s and New York’s legion of survivors of Hurricane Sandy cling to life through the blessings and charity of caring individuals and groups.


Many groups will be serving Thanksgiving fare to any and all comers wherever they can set up a tent, tables and chairs, and other challenges of bringing prepared food and drinks. Many survivors will eat having spent the night in a makeshift shelter, enduring the privations.


Here’s hoping we haven’t taken our own good fortune for granted and will seek divine intervention for all whose lives have been torn asunder by Sandy. We continue to believe that God has them in his care.


Have a happy Thanksgiving Day, surrounded by family, love and security.


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