Amidst stories of unions halting non-union power repair crews in New Jersey and residents in Bridgeport CT throwing eggs at utility workers because they weren’t working fast enough to repair outages, I have some post-Sandy stories about of a more edifying nature. (But first let me emend that first bit: I said “Unions” but I should have said the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, a top Democratic donor.) My neighborhood is right on Long Island Sound and was extremely hard hit by the storm.
Clean up and restoration will take a good long while and will doubtless involve countless irritations (as well as a large number of dollars). But the 106 households in the association displayed extraordinary spirit this past week. Thirty or forty dumpsters have been filled with debris and carted away. Residents who were not as hard hit have offered everything from babysitting services to food and drink and a place to stay for their less fortunate neighbors.
There have been some complaints about the local power company, though to be fair they are largely absorbed dealing with the hundreds of downed trees that have taken power lines with them. Yankee Gas has been exemplary. I arrived back at the neighborhood early the other morning just as a battalion of company vehicles had pulled up. Scores of workers from several states fanned out. Every gas meter was replaced, every gas line was tested, and the gas fired appliances of every house that survived were brought on line over the course of a couple of days. The men and women were working 16-hour days to make this happen. The neighborhood still looks a little like a war zone, but the transformation from day-one to now has been extraordinary.
FEMA and the Red Cross have also been by, distributing water and self-heating MREs. What really made the difference, however, were not those bureaucracies but the spirit of individual initiative. I suspect my neighbors are Democratic by a factor of at least 3 or 4 to 1, but in this crisis they have displayed a spirit of self-help and individual generosity Nancy Pelosi and the soon-to-be former President would surely consider politically retrograde.