The end of October, Jillian and I took at trip to the east coast to meet with Moira Madonia, our EdPowerment founder, to talk about our programming and fundraising plans. Before we left my dad said to me, “You are going to New York, are you sure it’s safe?” My response was, “Dad if you are worried about me travelling to New York, you really need to check your involvement in my life.” At the time, as we both laughed at his question, neither of us had any idea Frankenstorm, the super storm, was on the way to the coast to run over everything in its path.
We got to New York and spent Friday hanging out in New York City (my favorite city in America). We walked through the amazing fall leaves in Central Park, watched the hustle and bustle of people from all over the world exploring Time Square, met some really awesome old friends for dinner, shared stories and had drinks with another non-profit founder, and had lots of fun. Saturday we spent the day at Moira’s in New Jersey planning and working on EdPowerment. Now fully aware of the storm headed our way, we were sure our flight on Sunday night would still take off since the storm wasn’t coming until Monday. Sunday during a skype meeting with other members of our board, we found out all airlines out of La Guardia were cancelled and we would not be able to get another flight out until after the storm hit. This meant we were going to wait out the storm in New Jersey and then could maybe get a flight on Wed. evening if La Guardia opened again. After phone calls to work, family, and friends and planning 3 days of lesson plans for my sub we started to prepare for the storm. With Moira, her husband, and her son we did some shopping and stocking up on water, food and most importantly- wine. We charged all of our electronics, pulled out flashlights and prepared for the worst storm ever to hit the east coast. The power went out Monday night at 6ish and as the wind blew around us at record speeds we tried to sleep. We woke up to trees down everywhere and power lines all over the streets. With the power out and no access to the news but the radio we had no idea how bad it was until friends of ours from countries like Canada, Tanzania, and Australia started calling to check in on us because they saw footage we could not. Some of our friends who didn’t know we were in New York but also did not know the geography of America even called to make sure everyone in Chicago was alright. (: The biggest challenge for us was now figuring out how to get home. We heard on the radio that La Guardia was mostly underwater and we were not thinking we would make it out on Wed. I called my school to inform them I had no idea how to get home and to make some plans to prepare for my absence if I was out all week.
In the afternoon we took a trip to Moira’s friends house where there was a generator. Walking into her house you would not have had any idea a storm hit. Music was playing, there was a fire in the fireplace and all the lights were on. My first thought was how, although this storm has devastated thousands of people on the Eastern seaboard, America has the resources to truly get through so much. This woman’s generator was big enough to run electricity to surrounding houses and I am sure this mess of a storm will be tended to quickly compared to other parts of the world. When events like this happen in the underdeveloped countries aid and resources can take months or years to get to people.
One nice thing about the generator is we were able to charge all of our electronics and call the airlines. After finding out our flights were cancelled for a while and could not be rescheduled until the following week we started looking into buses. We thought we could bus to another city like Boston or Philladelphia and fly from there. Or worst case, we could bus home. After bus companies were not answering and our inability to access their websites, we tried accessing the airlines. We found out that all surrounding airports were not running at full capacity and it would be difficult to fly out of them also. We then called car rental places. With Moira’s help we were able to secure one of the last cars at Enterprise Rent A Car and had 20 minutes to get to them before they closed for the day. Racing to get the car and get on the road before it was too dark felt like we in an End of Days type movie were people are trying to run to get out of the danger zone. We said goodbye to Moira and her family and hit the road around 7pm Tuesday night. We drove 4 hours through the darkness of hilly Pennsylvania, stopped at a hotel, slept and woke up to drive another 10 hours the next day. We drove through the snow and rain of the hurricane to make it home in Chicago and return the car without getting charged for another day. While we were happy to be home, it did feel like we left our friends to weather through it and after getting to the hotel in Pennsylvania and seeing pictures of the devastation for the first time on the news we realized how lucky we were to be where we were throughout the duration of the storm. So many where devastated by that hurricane and lost so much. The entire eastern seaboard has been changed and will never really be the same.
On the way home we saw a huge fleet of Com-Ed (the Chicago Electric Company) trucks heading out to the area to help out and although I know the people will be suffering for a long time to come I was appreciative that our country is developed enough to have the resources to deal in times like this, when so many in the world do not have the organization or the systems set in place to deal with something like this. In the midst of such devastation we sometimes forget how lucky we are to live in a place that has the resources, money, and means to deal with even the worst of situations. My thoughts are always with those that lost everything and I am helping to organize a trip for some of my students to go to the East Coast to help volunteer for spring break, but I also think of the places where things like this happen and there is a lot less money and help. All in all though, another first to add to my life of adventures- a hurricane and a cross country road trip.
As some of you know I have been writing blogs since my first trip to Africa in 2008. I enjoy writing and telling my stories and a few people have told me to share my stories with magazines or write a book. I enjoy writing but I have never been sure if I could do anything with it. I mean, I am a writer who doesn’t know how to use commas (if anyone can help me with that I would greatly appreciate it) and has a major spelling problem. But then I thought….. I do have some really funny and interesting stories and my life is not at all what you would call traditional...so why not give it a try. I decided to take a chance and actually see if anything could happen with my writing. I submitted my first writing piece to the Women’s Adventure Magazine’s website. And guess what….they published it. I was so excited to have something I wrote published by someone else, even if it was on their website, that my confidence meter went up a little bit. I figure most writers also use editors so maybe with my awful use of grammar and punctuation I still have a chance. Anyway feel free to check out my first writing submission by clicking the link below. I am not sure where this will lead or if it will lead anywhere but I am going to submit some more so we will see.
Womens Adventure Magazine
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…..And if interested in what we did accomplish in New York during a hurricane. Check out some of our new EdPowerment program videos, our website updates, and soon we will have new EdPowerment brochure. If interested in joining our EdPowerment mailing list email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Long Term Sponsorship Program Video
Autism Connects Tanzania Video