I harbor a deep, dark secret:
I didn’t grow up in the mountains.
Instead, my childhood was spent in a land of sand and surf: the Jersey shore. I lived there until I graduated high school. And though I moved away long ago and now live in Vermont, I still have plenty of friends and family — as well as a deep, visceral attachment — to the ocean and the beach.
So to me, the images of the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy are especially heartbreaking. You know the amusement pier that collapsed into the ocean in Seaside Heights, NJ? That’s a few miles south of my brother’s house. Yes, he’s fine; he evacuated to his business a short distance inland, though he won’t be allowed back home for six to eight months, until all the gas mains on his barrier island are replaced and his house is inspected for structural damage. And after all that, it may still be condemned. Awful, for someone who’s lived in the same place since 1974.
Last year, when Irene hit Vermont, we were amazed at the extent of the destruction. Perhaps it was naive to think this was exceptional. There have always been storms, there will always be storms. But human memory is short. If it wasn’t, no one would build on barrier islands. These are fragile environments, and the ocean is a huge and powerful machine. It builds up easily, it takes down mercilessly. And there’s little we can do about it.
Science tells us climate change is here and the future will bring great changes, including larger, more powerful storms. This isn’t easy to fathom, but it’s true. The more we come to accept it, adjust our lives accordingly, and take steps to prevent things from getting worse, the better off we’ll be.
All that aside, the important thing right now is to help those who’ve been affected by this most recent tragedy; those who have lost their homes, their livelihoods, their property. Having been through Irene, I can easily relate to what’s happening on the coast. If you’ve never experienced a natural disaster, consider yourself lucky. But also consider this: it could happen to any of us tomorrow. If it did, we’d hope someone would help us, too.
So I hope you’ll forgive me if I ask you to give what you can to help. I know this has nothing to do with skiing, but incredibly enough, even I know that there some things more important than that.
Here are a few places that are accepting donations for those in need:
The American Red Cross: Go to www.redcross.org, call 800-Red-Cross, or text the word “Redcross” to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
The Salvation Army has dozens of mobile feeding units and shelters along the East Coast that are working to serve thousands in the areas most heavily hit. Visit www.salvationarmyusa.org to donate.
FeedAmerica has thousands of pounds of emergency food, water, and supplies in the disaster zone that it’s working to distribute to the storm’s victims. To donate, visit www.feedingamerica.org or call 800-910-5524.
World Vision is distributing flood clean-up kits, personal hygiene items, and emergency food kits to people hit by the hurricane. To donate, visit www.worldvision.org.
Save the Children is also working to provide relief to families and their children. Visit www.savethechildren.org to donate.
Americares is providing medicine and other supplies to people affected by Hurricane Sandy. To donate, visit www.americares.org.
Samaritan’s Purse is asking for volunteers to help storm victims. To volunteer, visit their website.
The Community Foodbank of New Jersey coordinates efforts with the state’s Office of Emergency Management, as well as with state and local nonprofit organizations. Visit www.njfoodbank.org.
And here’s something really cool:
Vermont’s ski resorts have launched Mountains of Love, a fundraising campaign to help with Sandy recovery. You can find out more about it here.