NEW YORK CITY — I thought I was reliving a scene from The Wizard of Oz for a brief moment this afternoon as I saw a large piece of metal hurtle through the air. Then the continual sound of wailing sirens below and large gusts of wind shaking my 28th floor apartment recalled to me that I was, in fact, in mid-town, Manhattan, in the eye of Hurricane Sandy.
Last night I ventured outside to find the streets filled with taxis and people on foot, the only two methods of transport since the Subway and all train lines had been shut down. McDonalds, Wendy's, Chipotle, the Chinese and Sushi restaurants across the street, even Whole Foods – all normally open at 7 on a Sunday evening – were closed. The lone lighted shop was a drug store, its shelves raided and nearly bare. People were hunkering down for the storm. I quickly returned to the 28th floor and did the same, filling large bowls and pitchers with water, discussing the saftey and electrical fittings of the building with the bellman, and making sure the stairs accessible on the 28th floor actually lead, eventually, outside.
Tonight, despite the rage of the storm outside and the somewhat surreal fact that I can buy nothing nor go anywhere in this normally bustling city (let alone get to Philadelphia, where Monday and Tuesday classes for my doctoral program at the University of Pennsylvania have been canceled), I have felt comfortable and safe.
What has added to my level of comfort is knowing LDS visiting and home teachers are at the ready. In sacrament meeting yesterday, all were encouraged to reach out to their home and visiting teachers to find out if they were prepared for the storm and if they needed anything. I received no fewer than four contacts from home and visiting teachers and from my Relief Society president. Additionally, I have reached out to my visiting teachies, a cousin in the city, and dear friends who may not yet be assigned home or visiting teachers.
To respond to calls for evacuation and various needs in the city, the stake has instituted a call line, although the first line of defense for urgent needs are to be processed through the home and visiting teaching "uplines."
It is comforting to know the community of Saints on this little island stand ready to help each other out – I have people to meet my needs, and I can be helpful to others in turn.
Lorianne Updike Toler is pursuing a doctorate in comparative constitutional legal history at the University of Pennsylvania, is President of Lorianne Updike Toler Consulting, and blogs at amormonatoxford.blogspot.com