I live in an area of Connecticut that was one of the hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy but I’m grateful – it was nothing compared to what some people in New York and New Jersey are still going through as I write this. As The Safety Mom, I was invited to take part in a Huffington Post Live web chat the day before the storm hit on how to talk to your kids about the hurricane. What I didn’t realize at that moment was that there was a different population we should have been focusing on – the elderly. Having no power, heat, water, cell service or internet access for seven days left me unable to see some of the most horrific pictures of the devastation. For the first several days I only was able to learn what was happening during the few hours I visited our library or local YMCA where there was power. Then, a day after our power was restored, we were hit with a snow storm which added a new layer of problems onto an already bad situation.
There are so many stories that are coming out of Hurricane Sandy but some are still not being told. These are stories that don’t make the national news but need to be told because they are about the most vulnerable victims – the elderly. As the President/CEO of PALS Built, my colleagues and I spend a great amount of time speaking to seniors as well as elder care providers. And, as my dad has Alzheimer’s, I see first-hand the issues caregivers as well as the elderly themselves face in the best of circumstances.
Over the next several weeks, I will be posting a series of blogs about how Hurricane Sandy affected the elderly – the incredible heroes who helped them, the challenges they faced, the first person awareness I gained and the reality of how isolated and vulnerable the elderly truly can be.
Before I go any further however, I want to say I am amazed and grateful for the incredible workers that have been in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area for weeks helping out. Utility crews, first responders and volunteers who have left their own homes, have had very little sleep and are working round the clock to help restore power and get our lives back to normal. I want to especially thank some people in my community of Wilton, Connecticut who, the moment their power was restored, set up a grass roots volunteer effort to collect food, supplies and cash and drove it down to Staten Island and Queens for people hardest hit by the storm. People do come together in a crisis and I’m proud to count these people among my friends.