WE SHARE ONE HEART, By Louise Annarino, October 31,2012

31 Oct

We Share One Heart, By Louise Annarino, October 31,2012


My Dad was never home during weather emergencies. Blizzards, floods, high winds…if the first responders were called out, Dad and his brothers were at their restaurant in the heart of town providing a warm place for emergency personnel to marshall forces, take rest breaks, and get a hot meal until the crisis passed. The coffee was always fresh, and the food plentiful. Mom held down the fort at home with occasional phone calls from Dad during lulls in the action to offer her support and provide her with safety information. She sacrificed the security of Dad’s protective presence for the protection of the larger community. Thus,my parents taught us that every citizen pitches in during an emergency to assist with whatever skills they can offer; not for profit, but for the common good.


In the 1959 flood which inundated most of our town, including our neighborhood, Dad’s restaurant once again became the central station for emergency personnel. Mom made five gallons of beef stew in the huge pot she used to make suga (spaghetti sauce). My twelve year old brother joined the men filling sandbags atop the levee a block from our house, while I cared for my seven-months and four-years old brothers. I packed what we would need if we were ordered to evacuate the house, as Dad expected would happen.


When Mom called the radio station to offer our home as a refuge for those already displaced,inviting those without electricity to come eat her beef  stew, she was told we should have already evacuated ourselves. I had been telling Mom this ever since I heard the National Guardsmen shouting through a bullhorn from the Army Ducks driving down our street. She was certain my overactive imagination was in play. When the sheriff heard Mom’s radio announcement he told Dad he should run home and get us because Mom said she was not leaving.


Earlier,Dad had told me to dress the boys in as many layers of clothing as I could because there would not be room enough or all of us and our luggage in the car. As Dad rushed four waddling kids into the car, Mom made sure she did not forget the empty milk jugs she had filled with fresh water, and what she needed to make my brother a birthday cake the next day. Dad made us leave our toys behind, but could not talk Mom out of cake supplies. The noise of the wind and rain, army vehicles and soldiers shouting out orders, and crying neighborhood kids being hustled away by parents would have been threatening and chaotic but for my parents’ calm and steady composure.


Celebrating that birthday with Mom’s homemade chocolate cake,despite our sheltering relatives’ comments about how silly she was to bother with a non-necessity, assured us that no matter what happened to our home and our lives our parents would not only keep us safe, but continue to celebrate life. Like the children affected by Super Storm Sandy, we were anxious and concerned. Certainly, our parents must have been also. But, their willingness to face difficulties while assisting others who shared the same challenges, gave them and us a healthy perspective.


My family was grateful to the public servants who saw our community safely through every storm, and helped us all deal with the aftermath. They did what they could to ease the burdens of those who served us and our entire community. They understood the families of those first responders made sacrifices similar to their own…for the common good.


I am thinking of those whose homes will never be the same; and, hoping they will continue to celebrate life as they move forward with our help. I am also thinking of the first responders who ran into the burning Con Ed building in NYC to help to safety those workers on-site during the explosion, of those coast guardsmen who rescued 14 of the 16 sailors aboard HMS Bounty as she sunk beneath the waves despite the helicopters they used nearly running out of gas, of the hospital workers who evacuated NY Hospital, of those who formed a human chain up many flights of stairs to pass fuel to operate generators for babies’ incubators, and of everyone who continues to assure safety and comfort. I am thinking of their families.


I am thinking of the mayors, governors, and elected officials responsible for their citizens health and safety. I am thinking of President Obama who organized the federal response this way: “So my instruction to the federal agency, has been: ‘do not figure out why we can’t do something, I want you to figure out how we do something. I want you to cut through red tape. I want you to cut through bureaucracy. There’s no excuse for inaction at this point.” He expressed that the nation is heartbroken. Heartbreaking events remind us we share one heart.


Donations help the Red Cross provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance to those affected by disasters like Hurricane Sandy. To donate, people can visit www.redcross.org, call 1-800-RED-CROSS, or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to someone’s local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.

Those seeking shelter or to connect with family should register on the Red Cross Safe and Well website, a secure and easy-to-use online tool that helps families connect during emergencies. To register, visit www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767). This site also connects with the Twitter and Facebook accounts of users.



One Response to “WE SHARE ONE HEART, By Louise Annarino, October 31,2012”

  1. Anne Weideman November 3, 2012 at 3:06 am #

    Louise, this is a beautiful story…very touching. Wish I knew your parents, but through your words, I feel as is if I do.

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