The wind whistled outside my house, as the lights flickered but thankfully didn’t turn completely off. Being in this situation reminded me of the terrible week and a half in late October when my family and community lost all electrical power due to Superstorm Sandy.
“Con Edison, how may I help you?” A woman’s voice finally answered our seventh phone call to Con Edison.
“Yes, we live in Staten Island, and our power is still down from Hurricane Sandy. I was wondering if you could give us an estimated – ”
“We’re working on it Miss,” was all we heard, and the line went dead.
“Well there goes that!” my sister exclaimed with a huff.
“I still can’t believe we haven’t had power for six days!” my neighbor complained.
“Six…Whole…Days,” another neighbor repeated with a blank look on his pained dark face.
“Yeah, and I already started school again, ugh!” I whined.
“Well, at least we’re all eating together on Shabbos,” my sister announced to my neighbors and my sibling. My sister Naomi was not taking this sudden turn of events well. Her bright green eyes, usually wide with curiosity were puffy and her face red and blotchy from a breakdown minutes before. As hard as she and the rest of our neighborhood tried to look at the positive, there really didn’t seem to be much “light” at the end of our tunnel.
My neighbor’s voice took me out of my thoughts.
“Yay, a nice candlelit Friday night meal…How fun…”
The Thursday night cooking that week in my kitchen was extremely unusual. My father had gotten two lamps connected by extension cords to the home of the people who lived behind us. We and our neighbors were both cooking for our very dim Friday night meal.
After many days in the darkness, it seemed as if our entire block was outside in the dark street, with flashlights or phones for guidance. This was because the rumor about the Con Edison trucks circling our neighborhood on Shabbos was almost too loud to be ignored. We were all anxiously waiting for the streetlights to lighten us up, figuratively and literally. That long awaited feeling of pure happiness as the occupants of Joseph Avenue danced through the streets. But that feeling did not come for another many hours.
Suddenly, after a few restless hours of waiting, one by one power returned to the houses. My block of semi-attached houses had slowly been getting light. The cheering and laughter could be heard for miles. People were embracing all those whom they had spent the seemingly never ending blackout with, huddled by the fireplace.
But as fast as the light returned, it went out again. Right at the house before mine. Extreme devastation was felt by all those who still had no power.
Tuesday after school:
A few days later when I returned from school, I actually thought I was experiencing “Brias HaOlam” and the exalted feeling of “Vayihi Or.” Finally I had gotten power back after nine days without electricity. After this long incident, I try never to take small things for granted, because I know how easily it can be taken away.