Due to the vagaries of print magazines, I am writing this on Election Day 2012. Due to the vagaries of Hurricane Sandy, I am writing this from the Jersey Shore where power was restored to my house after seven long and increasingly cold days. I and my family were only inconvenienced by the aftermath of one of the most destructive storms in history, while many more people lost their homes, not to mention their lives.
And yet I’m optimistic about the New York metropolitan area’s ability to rebuild and recover. The response to the storm has been informed by lessons learned from the tragedy of New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina. When Mayor Bloomberg of New York City announced the opening of evacuation centers, he made a point of saying that evacuees could take their pets with them to those centers: After Katrina, it became clear that many in New Orleans who should have evacuated failed to do so because they didn’t want to abandon their dogs and cats. Leadership at times of crisis takes many forms, but educated leadership learns from the past to make future prospects brighter.
More impressive to me than government leadership has been the outpouring of caring to those areas devastated by Sandy—by individuals, by volunteer organizations, by faith-based groups, by corporations like the makers of Duracell and Tide. That caring won’t end when power is restored and homes are repaired—it’s long been a part of the American psyche.