By Lauren Burns
As Hurricane Sandy turned into Superstorm Sandy, she left a wake of devastation on the shores and throughout the neighborhoods of the Northeast. Many of those who were affected are still recovering from the wrath of the storm as they fight their way to work on public transit and attempt to find childcare for their school-age students, unable to return to schools that are now makeshift shelters for those who had to evacuate their homes.
Of course, some of those affected are dental professionals who have been trying to get their offices up and running – if the building withstood the storm – one week after Sandy carved a path through the area.
Marty Jablow, DMD, has a beach house in Sea Bright, New Jersey, and witnessed the destruction first-hand. A dental office across the street from his house was completely destroyed by the storm. Surrounding it were boats piled atop one another and downed trees and power lines.
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For the dental clinics that withstood the storm, having a back-up of information has been essential in getting things running again and communicating with patients. Some offices were closed during the storm but were able to get the power on the next day, and, thanks to those systems, were able to reschedule appointments immediately.
Despite the destruction and people being left with little to no resources to care for themselves, most are looking for ways to help.
However, there are people who have been left desperate from the storm. “I don’t know how to describe it. We had no power for a week. You’re worried about going out at night because of looting. You’re afraid of having your generator stolen,” explained Millie Thaw, a dental hygienist from Long Island.
Luckily, Millie made it up to the DHASNY Empire Conference this past weekend as was able to travel for a generator and groceries for her family after the meeting. “I drove 300 miles away for the meeting, and I drove another 40 miles west after the meeting to get a generator and gas. I paid $200 above the price for the generator.”
By the time Millie got home, she had power again.
“People have been good – we’ve all helped each other. But you’ve got to be careful. We have our generator hidden in the garage. We’re worried about people stealing gas from our cars.”
The office where Millie works is an hour away, in New Hyde Park, New York, and opened the first Wednesday after the storm. However, says Millie, “Nobody’s coming out because they’re concerned that if they get here, they won’t get back home.” Millie says this is a real fear.
When she came to work last Wednesday, she was prepared for the worst. “I came with a cooler, extra clothes, pajamas, and a sleeping bag, because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to get home. To be honest, coming home Wednesday from work – there were no lights – the roads were so dangerous. People weren’t stopping at the intersections.”
When I asked about the general atmosphere, she responded, “People are very upset and testy. I think patience is starting to run out.”
And what about voting in tomorrow’s presidential election? “We’re trying to figure out how people are going to vote, because there aren’t a lot of places open. We heard that we can vote by email, but I haven’t gotten official word. A lot of that is being spread on TV, but if you don’t have electricity, how do you know what’s on TV?” Millie explained that her local polling place, a school, hasn’t been open since the storm, and she’s heard no word on when it will be open, either for voters or students – but it doesn’t look promising. “There are eight downed power lines at the school,” she told me.
Despite rising tensions and miscommunication, Millie has kept her sense of humor. “You have to laugh, ‘cause now I have my heat back, you know?”
If you are in the area and are able to help your neighbors get through this storm, check out this link for information on how you can participate in the Sandy relief effort.