Last night, during one of the most horrible storms to hit the east coast in my lifetime, I sat glued to my computer for updates of friends and loved ones. Per usual, Twitter was filled with snark, with hoaxes, and also with groundbreaking news and first person accounts of the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Sandy. Yes, there was the fake flooding of the New York Stock Exchange. And it prompted jokes like, “I guess Wall Street needs another bailout,” from comedians sitting safely in California. But there were also stories of NICU nurses from New York University’s Tisch Hospital carrying patients down nine flights of stairs after back-up power failed. Those are the stories we should be paying attention to, and the ones that should make each and every one of us squeeze our children a little tighter and send up a prayer for the fate of those families.
The Associated Press has confirmed that the back-up generator failed during the powerful storm in New York City last night that flooded streets and left millions without power. The emergency left 200 patients including 20 NICU babies to be evacuated by hospital personnel. Dozens of ambulances lined the blocks surrounding the building as doctors and nurses slowly carried patients out, holding on to ventilators and IV bags.
Online, the world learned about this scary situation in real-time. We saw pictures of the catastrophe as it was playing out. And we showed our awe and support for doctors and nurses who managed to keep patients safe in the darkness. We sent our thoughts to the EMTs and other first responders working tirelessly all over the city to rescue those in need. And as parents, I like to think that we collectively pulled together to send all the strength we could to those families trying to take care of loved ones in the frantic terror of such a situation.
Honestly, my husband and I just sat together, unable to even imagine what it would be like to have a child in the NICU at that moment. We thought of friends who spent weeks with their infants in the hospital and all the stress they were under during that time. It was just impossible to fathom how that stress and fear would multiply during a situation like that one last night in New York City.
I’m sure in the aftermath of this storm, people will be asking about the hospital’s emergency preparedness. We’ll all take a minute to wonder how a failure like this happened. We’ll hear from those doctors, nurses, and patients who are in everyone’s thoughts. But hopefully we’ll also remember the feeling of coming together, wanting to support each other in our hours of need.
Last night was a terrifying scene in New York City. From the horrible fire in Queens to the extensive flooding and loss of power, America’s largest city went through an awful experience. And New York was not the only city affected. Hurricane Sandy devastated the entire east coast and took lives in several states. Nine states are in a state of emergency. The evacuation of the NYU Hospital simply seemed like such a poignant example of the horror brought by this storm.