Several year’s ago my friend Veronica moved to Manhattan. On Tuesday she was the first of the small number of people I know on the Island I tried to contact, and she responded almost immediately. She’d just been up on the roof of her apartment in The East Village to look at the devastation, and sounded terrified and bewildered. Then, on Friday, I received another email, which I’ve reproduced below (with Veronica’s permision). I think it tells a positive story.
NY is certainly a city under siege, but with such a high uniformed presence comes some sense of security… The National Guard have been in since Tuesday afternoon and have closed all blocks below 14th street (where I live). I went out to the deli opposite yesterday morning and there is no milk, water, bread or papers. Coastguards are going up and down the East River outside and the only sound is that of police helicopters, military jets and sirens. The weather is really warm and the sky and Rivers are a brilliant blue. There are thousands of people on the streets but is is ominously quiet, phone line and e-mail connections are intermittent.
I think Tuesday was so shocking for everyone but people immediately came together — I went to the nearest hospital just 2 hours after it had happened and already there were hundreds of people lining up to give blood — people have slowed down, becoming much more patient and tolerant of each other, as everyone is now working towards the common goal of making it all better. The real heroes of this all are the Service people especially the firemen and nurses. It’s humbling. They are desperate for experienced volunteer nurses and firecrew, it makes you feel ashamed you have no training to offer.
An addendum: I have just arrived in work — it took some 2 hours to travel across town and up 60 blocks, as 14th street is lined by the police force and National Guard keeping everything clear for the emergency workers. It’s full of buses, emergency vehicles and Salvation Army trucks unloading food donations from some of the finest restaurants and food shops. However, emerging from the underground at 79th street on the Upper West Side is like landing in another country — it’s full of people bustling about shopping, yapping, hailing cabs, pushing infront of people — the Upper West Side definitely does not reflect the people I live alongside, and respect, downtown… I can’t wait to leave work and return downtown to where everyone has become United.
Keep safe everyone, and thank you for your good wishes, which I will channel on to the thousands of service people trying to right a wrong.
Thisn to is positively the most refreshing story I’ve read in these darkest of days – the first thing I’ve read that doesn’t seem to have an axe to grind, a battle plan to put into gear or a monumental amount of blame to aportion. Don’t forget that, when the dust has settled, as far as New Yorkers are concerned this is very much a human story.