Lessons Learned From Hurricane Sandy

Before I start babbling, I want to send a heartfelt prayer to everyone affected by Hurricane Sandy.  Although I am extremely grateful for the return of my power, I am also sensitive to those who are still waiting.

I know how disheartened I was feeling on Thursday and can’t imagine how you are feeling on Day Six.  So to you, and all those who lost much more than electricity, much love coming your way.  #staystrong

I live in New Jersey and five days ago we experienced one of the worst hurricanes in the history of the world. Wow, that sounds rather dramatic, but it’s true!

Today, after four long days without electricity or heat, I am feeling more grateful than I can ever remember feeling. EVER!

Living without power for that long provided a lot of time to THINK.

Here is some of what I learned…

  • As grateful as I am, I definitely take a LOT for granted
  • Electronic devices are a HUGE part of my life
  • Cats don’t notice or care when they don’t have electricity
  • A pen and paper can keep you very busy 
  • The iPhone is an AMAZING invention
  • Candles are an AMAZING invention
  • The iPhone is NOT just like having a computer
  • The battery life on iPhones and iPads seems a lot shorter when you need to charge them in your car
  • Peanut butter and jelly is really delicious
  • Flipping on light switches when you enter a dark room is a subconscious habit
  • People will surprise you
  • I’m not at thoughtful as I thought I was
The biggest thing I learned, which I truly believe will make me a better person is this:
When you are experiencing a personal misfortune,
the rest of the world carries on,
and it can feel like no one really cares
Now I KNOW that isn’t true and I hesitate to write it, because I know it might make some of you feel bad.
Please don’t.
I write it because it has been such an eye-opener for me.
It was absolutely surreal to be watching the continuous coverage on all the major networks one minute, and be completely cut off the next.  It was very scary to be in THE place they were filming, and then be unable to find out what the HECK was happening.
Even the radio in my car didn’t work.
Where did everybody go???  
When my iPhone started working again, I went to the first place I could think of to find out what was happening~ FACEBOOK! And, in my self-consumed state, it felt as if no one knew or cared what we were going through.
I saw jokes, inspirational quotes and lots of political junk, even complaints about football teams, none of which were comforting.  
It was like an episode of The Twilight Zone, except it was very real.  It was like my world came to a screeching and dramatic halt, but everyone else was living as usual.
How dare they!  
I now understand that only others in the affected areas could share this daunting, haunting feeling of not knowing what was happening.  It was not that people didn’t care, because they did.  They just didn’t know how alone we felt.
How could they?  
I began to think of all the other hurricanes and earthquakes and snowstorms which have not affected us here in NJ, and I started to feel guilty about not being better at reaching out during those times. 
There have been many hurricanes in North Carolina and I didn’t always call my brother to make sure he was OK.  He was, but I wonder if he wished I had called. Worse yet, I wonder if he noticed that I didn’t.
There have been earthquakes in California and I didn’t reach out to friends who live there.  I assumed they were fine and they were.  I now know how much that email or phone call may have meant to them.
I’m not proud of this, but I am more aware.   
So here are my takeaways…


  • I will do a better job of being empathetic when others, near or far, are in the midst of a natural disaster.
  • I will donate more quickly and more generously.
  • I will make phone calls, send emails and texts, just to let people know they’re in my thoughts.
  • I will NOT assume the person who might be affected by the disaster is too busy for my email, phone call or text. 
I will also NOT assume all the wonderful people (many of whom, I’ve never even met!) who went out of their way to check in with me, know how much I appreciate them.
It has been six days since the power went out here in NJ. I was very fortunate to have mine restored on Day Four.  Many, many others are still waiting, and I wrote many of their names on my 10-10 list today. I look forward to hearing from you that it worked TODAY!
October 28, 2016 Update:
Today, four years later, I now live in the town this video was shot from. 

Click on this image to see the video

Grateful to be here now and more grateful I wasn’t here then.
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  1. Very well written Linda. I’m so very sorry for the losses suffered because of Hurricane Sandy, it’s almost unbelievable the amount of damage. I have been checking in with numerous friends and family and counting the blessings. As a former long time Floridian…I know exactly what you described about feeling cut off from the rest of the world and that was long before I even knew what FB was so I can only imagine…
    So grateful that you are well. You have provided a great reminder to us all.

  2. This is a great reminder that “little things mean a lot.” Thoughts and prayers are a great comfort in such unfortunate situations as this hurricane. I feel so badly for all of the victims and can only imagine the manpower that it is taking to get the electricity back up for everyone. It has to be such a frightening time just trying to get some food for your family or gas for your car, water to drink and just wondering when your lives will be back to “your” normal again. I pray that it is very soon for all of you and please know that you are NOT alone. America and the whole world prays for your safety and that we can all see the sunshine once more.

    • Elinore, thank you so much for this wonderful comment. Warms my heart that you stopped by to read it and write this 🙂

  3. What a powerful post Linda. I truly understand what you mean and the most important thing is that 2 weeks, 2 months, 2 years from now we have stayed in this place of awareness and we continue in our efforts to stay vigilant. It’s a lesson I know I am going to be held accountable and I hope together you can help me with that. I am so glad you are safe, I am glad my family is safe, I am so sorry for the losses. Thank you again!

    • Christie, I couldn’t agree more~we need to STAY in this awareness. I hope to hold myself accountable too! Thanks!

  4. LOVE the learnings and observations you shared here Linda, thank you! What a heart-opener for all who have experienced and are experiencing the effects of disasters like this one and for those in a position to provide assistance. I’m guilty of taking those little things in life for granted, only to become aware of their significant value when they are no longer available. I believe Mother Nature is perhaps the greatest teacher of them all.

  5. Thanks, awesome coach and friend. This week has been so emotional. Thank you for putting the pen to the paper with your thoughts and emotions. You will appreciate the details of my evening! So I am grateful for the opportunity to share.

    After 2 days of calling a gazillion (more than 100) hotels, I finally secured a hotel room for my 75 year old parents in Piscataway, NJ. (50 Plus miles from their powerless home that they were told to evacuate yesterday!). $209 per night. (If you ever go to Piscataway, you will know that this rate is a crime). So no choice but to book this hotel because my brother and I were both without power and they needed to be somewhere safe and warm.

    After getting my parents settled, I picked up my son at a friend who had him over for dinner….., (as well as 7 other boys without power)…. to her cold, dark, house! On our way home from there, I received a phone all that our power was back on! That our neighbors had power and so did we! Omg! a miracle! So we raced home and my sweet, 10 yr old son flicked on the switch. No light! He tried a few times! No light! Then he ran off into the dark crying! I almost called 911 but then he yelled out and finally appeared!

    When it is all said and done, I sit here more grateful than ever! (For more than 10 things!) #1 for my awesome, sweet , loving, compassionate son John! #2 for my amazing coach and friend , Linda Ryan!

    • My pleasure, awesome client and friend! WOW, you guys have had quite a time of it. I didn’t even think about your parents…oy vey! I can’t tell from this if your power is on or off at this point. I’m hoping ON ON ONNNNNNNN!!!!!

  6. Thanks for a great blog and your experiences. It is funny what we do not appreciate “as much” before it is taken away from us. Thanks for sharing your awareness in the pursuit of helping others growing in their awareness around this fact and truth.
    Thank you, Linda!

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