Friday, November 02, 2012

News from Staten Island

"It was like living through Titanic, but on ground," said one survivor.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, there has been a lot of news about New Jersey, but only now is the news coming in from Staten Island. Maybe that's because President Obama hasn't been there yet. Or because it is still without power in so many areas. Today I found news in three different sources:

The Chicago Tribune had an online piece yesterday, and today another piece in the front section, highlighting some of the tragic deaths on the Island (like the ex-Marine dad, whose body was found embracing that of his 20-year-old son under the remains of their house).

Our sisters wrote us an e-mail update, letting us know which of our friends and collaborators they had been able to contact (and which they haven't), along with news of their soup-and-blanket ministry. (Two of the sisters in our Staten Island community grew up in New Orleans, so our convent was well prepared to meet the storm, with ice and water and "Sterno" stocked up.)

Finally, I found a link on Facebook telling the story of our great friends, Rich and Lois Nicotra. Our annual Christmas concert (the big one) is held in the ballroom of their hotel. That hotel is now in the news, with the Nicotras refusing to evict storm refugees from the hotel to make room for the marathon runners and tourists. (Seems the New York Marathon, which begins on Staten Island, will go on as scheduled this weekend.) Oh, and there's a big winter storm on the way.

I spent about three years on Staten Island, when our convent was in the "St George" district by the ferry terminal, and I get back there every Christmas for the concerts, so the place holds a lot of memories. God willing, I will be there again at Thanksgiving time, helping to raise people's spirits with the gift of music and the message of a child, born in the shelter of a stable when there was "no room in the inn." At least today for the people of Staten Island, there is room in the Inn!

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