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A Personal Hurricane

Ana Zaldarriaga
Ana Zaldarriaga

Just about over a year ago, Hurricane Irene came to the East Coast a few days before my wedding.  It was the first time New York City had ever shut down its entire transportation system. Fallen trees damaged cars, homes, and streets. Neighborhoods were without power for days. Homes were flooded, and property was destroyed. Our apartment in Brooklyn suffered some leaks and small flooding, but many others felt a greater impact from the 6th costliest hurricane in United States history. The venue for our wedding was completely flooded with no electricity, and no access by train. Yet, three days later, we had our wedding ceremony on a beautiful sun-drenched day in a vibrant, verdant garden.

This past Monday, Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast and was predicted to be the worst storm in 100 years seen in the Northeast U.S. The damage done and havoc wreaked are being constantly reported by the media, even as the effects are still being measured. Scenes from different parts of NYC and other coastal areas are not so dissimilar from what we saw just over a year ago. It seems that we are entering an era in which more natural disasters are occurring - where they are becoming less of a primary historical incidence. I have also observed that compassion and solidarity are becoming more prevalent as part of the balance in the natural disaster equation.

One day before Hurricane Sandy, my best friend threw a baby shower for me and my husband. Some close to me speculate that natural disasters are linked to the major events in my life - a marriage, pregnancy, etc. I will say that if from disaster comes hope, and from conflict comes opportunity, then from loss comes gratitude. I am again reminded of how blessed I am. I might have been spared by this hurricane, but certainly felt the powerful frenetic energy from the meteorological chaos, cosmic full moon, gravitational pull of the tides, and human confusion and fear. I had no way to communicate with my parents who were alone and in the dark in their high-rise building in Manhattan. My best friend got very sick as Sandy was making landfall and needed to be brought to the ER. Neighbors needed help doing last-minute hurricane preparations in their homes. We were saving water, prepping supplies, and cooking all perishables in case we lost power. My house became a shelter for out-of-state and south-of-34th-street-Manhattan refugees. Lastly, I manifested the first signs of the beginning of my long journey of labor. In the end, my friends and family were all safe, and I was grateful for all that we have.

On Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 2:00am, the clocks fall back 1 hour.  For daylight savings time, there is a common saying: "Spring forward, fall back."  I think what Sandy is teaching us is the opposite: "Fall back, spring forward." I will take the extra hour I am given and meditate on a sentence I have scrawled on one of my bedroom walls - "Venus significat humanitatem" - It is love that is the sign of our humanity.

For ideas on lesson plans, check out: http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/30/teaching-hurricane-sandy-ideas-and-resources/.

For more on volunteering through Leadership Steps Up, stay tuned to our Facebook page and blog posts.

Ana Zaldarriaga

Ana Zaldarriaga

By Ana Zaldarriaga

Ana Zaldarriaga Pronouns: she/her/hers Sr. Dir. of Employee Development The Leadership Program 535 8th Avenue, Floor 16 New York City, NY 10018 Phone: 212.625.8001 Fax: 212.625.8020 tlpnyc.com “…building strong leaders in classrooms and communities."