06 Nov 2012

Anchored to Nantucket

Anchored to Nantucket

Nantucket was one very lucky little island last week as Hurricane Sandy unleashed its wrath on the entire Northeast. Island residents nibbled their fingernails as they waited and watched for news of the direction and intensity of the storm. When the sky finally cleared and the storm had passed, the damage assessments were less than predicted, all things considered. We were saddened to discover some of our Madaket neighbors had cottages washed into the ocean, others with property damage or loss of power due to exposed electrical boxes. There were some trees down, damage to town pier and beach erosion. Thankfully, there was no loss of life. Overall, locals and summer residents breathed a huge sigh of relief that the island was mostly spared….especially when the news reports began pouring in with stories of the horrific damage our friends in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut had incurred.

Webster’s defines anchored as “a source of security or stability.” As Sandy made its ominous approach, Nantucketer’s joined forces to secure the island with boarded windows and walls of sand bags. Our family happened to be in California when the storm hit. It was a very helpless feeling to be so far away when our little island, our home and friends and neighbors were in harm’s way. Although initially relieved, once we returned and confirmed the island was mostly intact, the helpless feeling mounted as the days progressed and we learned that hundreds of our homeowners, clients and friends were heavily impacted by the damage in the tri-state area.

As I reached out to them last week, I was deeply touched by their stories of loss, damage and hardship. Virtually all of them were without power for days…many still are even today. The stories ranged from what they described as “minor:” downed trees and power lines, no ability to readily obtain gas for their cars and generators, not a gallon of milk within miles. Others had significant “major” heartbreaks: complete loss of their own or a family members personal belongings, major structural damage to their homes due to high winds and flood water, huge loss of revenue due to inability to get to offices or operate their businesses without power and some very sad stories of their friends and neighbors losing their lives in flood waters and in one case their own front yard as a tree tumbled over after the storm. Heartbreaking.

There was one common thread in the conversations I had. Every single one…to a person…expressed gratitude that their own fate was not worse, conveyed optimism they would endure and then they inquired about two things: how is Nantucket and how are you? This optimism and compassionate concern in the midst of extraordinary difficulty touched my heart. It reminded me of one of the biggest gifts Nantucket gives us all – it unites us. Even when the storms of life batter us from every side, our beloved Nantucket really does provide an anchor where we can connect to friends and neighbors…even those we’ve never met in person.

My grandmother always reminded me that behind every dark and stormy cloud is a silver lining. This will go down as a very dark and devastating storm and it isn’t easy to spot the silver lining. However, on this historic election day, when political affiliations, strong viewpoints and ideologies threaten to divide us, Hurricane Sandy reminds us of the great need we have to remain united. The care, concern and goodwill we extend to our friends, neighbors and fellow human beings is what has always and will continue to help us endure life’s storms.

Stay connected.

Shellie Dunlap

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