Thursday, November 1, 2012

Not The Treats We Expected

As we were gathering our pile of raw stories for today's edition, we had to note how glad we are that our editor Amy and her family in our DC offices are safe, warm, and relatively dry. Like millions of Americans, we have more than a few friends who remain stranded and away from their homes in the Northeast, due to an overabundance of water, a lack of power, or both.

Other than in New Jersey, where Governor Chris Christie wisely postponed Halloween until next Monday, little ghosts and goblins were begging for candy last night in neighborhoods all over the country. Some of the kids in Pennsylvania and Western New York state still got wet on their begging blitz though, thanks to the rainy remnants of Sandy.

Overall, the people we know who live in the wake of the storm are amazingly positive, even now - especially those in New York City. Yes, power is still out for millions on the East Coast, and communication issues are still rampant, as well. Thousands are living somewhere other than in their own homes right now - especially those that no longer have homes.

Even with all this, there seems to have been a few unexpected gifts in the wake of the disaster.

To start with, we've been impressed with the way New Jersey's Republican Governor Chris Christie has been acting this past week. Christie, working side by side with President Obama, has been coordinating with FEMA and both Democratic and Republic governors of the other affected states in an example of bipartisan leadership most Americans don't see at any level these days.

The cynical part of us realizes that Christie's bipartisan actions likely aren't wholly based on his concern for the citizens of New Jersey. There is, after all, a presidential race for 2016 coming up. The less cynical parts of our staff are willing to take Gov. Christie's words and deeds at face value, because - at his core - we think Gov. Christie truly loves his state, and is heartbroken to see New Jersey and it's people so devastated.

There have been more lives lost than we'd expect to see in a natural disaster like this. The true costs of repairing and replacing property and infrastructure haven't even begun to be fully tackled yet. As we already noted, millions are still without electrical power - though we think they may have gained power of another kind.

In fact, that may have been the other gift Superstorm Sandy gave Americans.

As we heard anecdotal stories from multiple people throughout the East Coast today, neighbors are putting away their gadgets and concentrating on their neighbors. Even if they do have power, TV, and internet, they're generally leaving the machines off, save for quick posts, as they help the people they know to clean up, pick up, and deal with the storm's aftermath.

Even in New York City, businesses with power were bringing out power strips anywhere they could, letting passerbys plug in their cell phones for a recharge, free. More than a few spontaneous neighborhood Halloween parties seem to have broken out too.

We know this bipartisanship and neighborliness isn't going to last forever. That it's happened at all has shocked some of the more jaded members of our larger media industry.

Still, if the Northeastern U.S. can take something good from one of the worst hurricanes to ever hit our nation, we're hoping this outbreak of bipartisanship and neighborliness - right before the election - may have at least a few lasting effects.

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