I have been glued to the news since Monday to get all the details on Hurricane Sandy. It has been crazy. We are all concerned, but I have a ton of family, friends, and colleagues back on the East Coast, and several family members on the Jersey Shore just blocks from the ocean. This is very personal to me. Sure enough, Sandy hit NJ/NY directly and paralyzed the East Coast. If you are back there or have been impacted directly by the storm, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
I was talking to my sister Patti on Wednesday afternoon. She lives in Pt. Pleasant, NJ, about 6 blocks from the beach. It was the first I had spoken to her in 48 hours since the Hurricane hit. They had been without power since Monday afternoon and all the juice in their cell phones and computers had died.
When she began to list the direct blow to the Pt. Pleasant/Bay Head/Brick/Seaside, NJ communities (my home area), I could feel the disbelief and shock in her voice. I was devastated. She was devastated.
Patti described how she and her husband, Roger, ventured up about 6 blocks from their home to the ocean where the scene worsened. Ocean front homes were GONE. Or destroyed. The main roads were flooded or had 3-4 feet of sand covering them. Power lines were down. Random debris was everywhere. Boats and kayaks were strewn across other people’s lawns. There were still areas with 3-4 feet of standing water. In spots, the ocean met the bay. People were looting. The National Guard was making its way in. Crazy. Sad.
My other sister, Judy, lives just 2 blocks from the beach in Bay Head, NJ. Her apartment is GONE. She was living in a basement-level unit where now there is 5 feet of water and sand. ALL of her possessions are gone. GONE.
The stories go on and on. And they keep getting worse. My heart bleeds for my family. For everyone. Up and down the entire East Coast, everyone has been impacted. Some lost homes. Some are displaced. Some lost valuables. Others are going to be affected indirectly for many months to come.
I spoke with Patti again yesterday and we talked about “what to do,” and although I’m not sure there is a great answer, let me share a few suggestions.
- If you are a trainer or massage therapist back on the East Coast, make your gym or health club the hub of the community. People need stress release more than ever right now.
I know when we had the fires here in San Diego in 2003 and 2007, many of our clients lost their homes – 58 lost their homes in 2003 and many more were displaced due to damage. In 2007, 18 clients lost their homes. And again, dozens more were out for months due to damage. There was A LOT of suffering.
In many different ways and for many different reasons, people congregated at Fitness Quest 10 for the days, weeks, and months following each of these fires. It was a safe-haven. More than a place to workout, it was a place to hangout. To shower, to see friends, to try to resume normalcy and return to routine. It was therapeutic.
Can you or your business be the same, right now? Whether you live in New Jersey, New York, or anywhere on the East Coast, see if you can be the epicenter of shelter and refuge. Create something positive!
- Get OUT and give BACK. Anytime there is tragedy, there is a tremendous effort by locals, trained experts, the medical community, and volunteers who come out and make a difference.
One of the things we did during the fires that made a difference was to send teams out to the shelters to do “chair massage.” Massage is such a wonderful modality to heal stress and anxiety anyway, but under such tragic circumstances people are in shock. Massage is a great way to give back.
In the first week or so after a tragedy, many people feel paralyzed and can’t do anything. They get glued to the TV. But after a while, 24-hour coverage gets depressing. Help fight against this by offering 1 or 2 “free 30 minute workouts” a day in your community and GIVE BACK in a way where you don’t expect anything in return. Don’t do it to get new clients. Do it because you want to make a difference and help people feel better.
- Volunteer. There is so much work to be done. Gather your friends, workout partners, fellow club-members, etc. and get out and make a difference. I’m assuming there is going to be tremendous opportunity to get out and do some manual/physical labor. It doesn’t need to be related to your skill or trade. Volunteer and contribute where you can. Every little bit will help.
My friends, there has never been a time that I’ve been more proud to be from New Jersey. And the Shore, specifically. They say that Jersey folks are tough, strong, and resilient. I agree. That’s why they say “JERSEY STRONG.”
And whether you are from New Jersey, New York, Florida, Maine, the state of Washington, or California, we will bond together and get through this one because we are STRONG. We will RECOVER. And we will HEAL. I put together a short video on ONE ACTION step we can all as a fitness community to help those devastated by Hurricane Sandy.
In 2001, we overcame the greatest tragedy to impact our country with the 911 Terrorist Attack.
In 2007, the entire country rallied around the Hurricane Katrina effort that hit the New Orleans community.
In 2003 and 2007, we overcame wildfires here in San Diego with the help of many from all over the country.
It’s time for all Americans to rise up AGAIN. Together, we are damned strong. And we will do this thing. Gather your family and friends, roll up your sleeves, and let’s get to work.