Our Town: Good, and Plenty of It
It’s easy to become cynical living in the wealthy suburbs of the great city. It’s easy to focus on petty rivalries and political divisiveness… to become smugly entitled and condescendingly sophisticated. But high winds have a way of blowing all that away, and barriers tend to fall when the sea runs through the streets.
When the midnight tide ebbed, plenty of good was left behind. I saw scores of neighbors reaching out to help each other. Extension cords crisscrossed lawns connecting those with generators to those without. I saw every public institution throw open its doors to provide heat and comfort and access to the outside world. I met crews from Mississippi, North Carolina and Texas who had driven 30 hours to work 16-hour shifts. I saw our own city employees working tirelessly to keep us safe and get us back to normal.
When the power is out, it never comes back on fast enough. When your home is damaged, it always takes too long to put it right. There’s nothing good about a storm that does so much damage. There is, however, plenty of good left in town. And I am grateful for it.
With great appreciation to all who are helping to put things right,
Peter van Dijk
Two Great Community Organizations
This community, as was the case in many communities in and around New York, was shaken by two significant weather events in the past two weeks. We were fortunate to weather both events without incident but others were not so fortunate. Many in this community reached out to help others in need. In addition, two of my favorite places in Rye did their part to help.
Thank you to the Rye YMCA for being a place of comfort – a true ‘neighborhood house’ – to help so many get through what has been a difficult time. We were all fortunate that your doors were open, your lights and heat were on, and warm water and electricity were flowing at a time when people in this community needed the comforts of home, a safe haven and a place to gather.
Thank you, too, to the Rye Reading Room for keeping your doors open later than usual and giving people a warm, peaceful place to read, rest, and stay connected.
When I heard of the impending storms, I feared that this area of Rye would be flooded out, as is often the case. Fortunately, both sites were spared and were able to stay open, helping many.
Thank you Rye YMCA and Rye Reading Room – I am very grateful to live in a neighborhood with you in it!
Well Done, DPW
While Con Ed trucks might have been in short supply in the days after Sandy, our own DPW seemed to be everywhere. They were out before the storm, they were the first ones I saw after the storm, and when the Nor’easter dumped snow on us, they were plowing the streets. They were good-spirited as well. I think they did a great job, and I commend their efforts.
Thoughts from the Street That Con Ed Forgot
It’s Wednesday, November 6 here on Ellsworth Street and power still hasn’t been restored post-Sandy. By any standard, Con Ed’s network availability is unsatisfactory — period.
I offer a couple of observations that demonstrate why conditions are the way they are — despite Con Ed’s protestations of pre-storm preparedness — from the super-micro perspective of the 60-foot section of their right of way outside my house.
1) About 15 years ago, the telephone company came down Ellsworth Street and placed new utility poles alongside the existing ones. In short order, they and Cablevision moved their facilities off the old poles, which were decrepit even then, and attached them to the new ones. We’re still waiting for Con Ed to do likewise.
2) A big, old Eastern Sweet Gum tree stands curbside where its branches interlace with utility lines. A couple of years ago, after excavation severely compromised the tree’s root system, I petitioned the city to remove it. DPW referred the job to Con Ed because of the trees’ relationship to the wires. You guessed it; we’re still waiting.
By the grace of God, tree and poles are still standing. This is neglect, pure and simple. A possible explanation is that, because deployment of a new “smart grid” may be only a few years down the road, Con Ed has simply stopped investing in existing facilities. If that’s the case, customers shiver in power-deprived homes while shareholders bask in the warmth of a billion-dollar bottom line. That’s cold comfort.
I’ve listened as Con Ed’s R&D staff presented at a gathering of other electrical engineers so I know they have smart people working there. It’s too bad the decision makers don’t seem to be among them.
If storms like Sandy and last year’s Irene are indeed the new normal, then it’s high time Con Ed and other utilities begin to think out of the box. Instead of mutilating trees along their right of way in the name of storm preparedness, they should start burying facilities.
Goodwill, Good Fellowship
This is a special note of commendation for the Rye City Police, Rye Country Day School, and the various service organizations that converted a “disaster day” into a memorable experience of community good will and good fellowship.
The entire experience of evacuation from my home in Waters Edge to the neighboring school shelter was managed effectively with courtesy and consideration.
It was a night to be remembered with a sense of pride and grateful appreciation for all the institutions and individuals that make Rye such a special place to live.
My thoughts are with all those who may still be coping with the ravages of the storm.
Our Community Tree Provided Plenty of Shelter from the Storm
The destructive force of Hurricane Sandy has touched us all. Many of our homes and property have been damaged, our lives turned temporarily up side down, and our patience tested. With the long and arduous process of restoring power to most of the City, we made due without the everyday things we take for granted – Wi-Fi connections, lights, heat, hot showers, laundry, and TV. We played card and board games, read to each other by candlelight, and shared meals with our friends and neighbors — often gathering at the homes of our neighbors with generators and warm fires.
We texted one other when we found an open gas station, when the trains started running, when a Con Ed truck showed up, and when we knew someone was having a hard time. We shared our collective frustrations and made an effort to give each other a boost when the days got harder.
While we spent these past two weeks craving stability and a return to some normalcy – there were individuals and organizations all across the city making the process of getting by that much easier.
As the Parent Organizations representing the families of Osborn, Milton, Midland, Rye Middle and High schools, we would like to thank all the organizations that opened their doors, extended their hours, and offered their services. Rye Country Day School – from the first day of the storm – became a community center for those hardest hit – providing shelter, hot showers, and a warm place to come.
The Rye Free Reading Room and the Rye Historical Society made it possible for us to gather with our families and get things done – study, read, check emails, charge our media devices, connect with work, keep warm. The YMCA, Rye Recreation, and Kids’ S.P.A.C.E. expanded their programs to keep our children busy during the long, unscheduled days when school was closed.
Our School Board members under Laura Slack’s leadership worked tirelessly behind the scenes with City and County officials to make sure our schools were re-opened as soon as possible. The Caring Committee and our local parishes reached out and coordinated efforts for families in need. The Rye City Police and Fire departments did what they do best — they brought order and safety to neighborhoods and streets — and they filled the information vacuum with regular updates and alerts. As the power outages extended and the days grew colder, Rye Golf Club and our friends at The Osborn also welcomed folks in.
Finally, we thank our teachers, principals, and staff of the School District, many of whom suffered their own losses and hardships as a result of Sandy. Our children are back in school, under your caring supervision, and we are all able to share a collective sigh of relief and be grateful that there are so many adults in Rye who care about our children and families.
Kim Stacks O’Connor