(Seaside Heights. Photo credit: NBC’s Brian Thompson)

I’m not going to attempt to say anything profound about Sandy.  Unless you’re still living without power, you’ve seen the photos.  (And if you are still living without power, you’re probably not reading this blog and you don’t need me to tell you anything.)

In the wake of this devastation, there are rainbows:

First, emergency personnel–or first responders, as we’ve come to call them–acted heroically, as did nurses and others who saved patients when hospital backup systems failed in New York City.  Really, we can’t give these people enough respect, and that’s true at all times, not only when a natural or manmade disaster has just occurred.

Second, public officials on multiple levels did their jobs and did them well–and are still doing so.  We should give credit to every Democrat, Republican and Independent who, even if they didn’t erase politics from their minds completely, put human suffering first and did what they were elected to do.

Third, as we’ve seen over and over again in our recent history, Americans who don’t need help themselves are looking for ways to help others.  If you are one of the lucky ones, here are a few of the places you can go to contribute:

  • AmeriCares is providing medicine and other medical supplies and humanitarian supplies to people in need.  Donate here.
  • If you want to see some places or organizations with particular needs, book publicist and New Jersey resident Kathleen Schmidt (@Bookgirl96) has set up the Facebook page “New Jersey Needs.”  Here you can see requests for specific items from places like Toms River East High School and Jenkinson’s Aquarium in Point Pleasant Beach.
  • If you live in New Jersey and want to volunteer your time and your hands, the state has set up a volunteer emergency response hotline at 1-800-JERSEY-7.   Backup hotline numbers are 609-775-5236 or 908-303-0471.  (Note that these lines are often busy due to heavy call volume, but keep trying.)

The organizations listed above represent just a few of those conducting relief efforts.  A quick Google search will present many more.  Also, your local school, religious or civic organization, workplace, etc., may now or in the days to come organize its own relief effort and offer more ways to contribute.

One final note to parents, especially parents of younger children who may be worried about the lasting effects of this natural disaster on your kids.  Obviously, this will be different for every child, depending both on your kid and on how direct and/or severe an impact you suffered from the storm.  If you’ve lost a home, a livelihood or worse…that’s a terrible situation that requires more attention than a mere paragraph in a blog post can address.  Assistance is available, for you and your kids, and one or more of the organizations I mention above can help you find it.

Speaking in broader terms, however, KJ Dell’Antonia offers a reassuring post at The New York Times’ Motherlode blog today.  What causes lasting distress for adults may constitute fond memory for our kids.  It’s worth reading, parents; it may leave you with one less thing to worry about.

Also, if you’re looking for something to help you explain the hurricane to your little kids, this book for looks promising: Yesterday We Had a Hurricane, by Deirdre McLaughlin Mercier.  It’s a bilingual English/Spanish book for very young children.  I caution that I haven’t read it so I can’t fully endorse it, but if I had a concerned preschooler, I’d be inclined to try to get it for her.  The catch: due to Sandy, it may be a tough title to locate right now.

Best wishes for recovery to everyone affected by the hurricane.

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