Why Do We Turn Our Heads When Hurricanes Happen?

Published by Daleen Berry on

Or earthquakes or wildfires, or any other natural disaster that leads to death and devastation for our fellow man? Or do we?

I know I did, the past few days. And this isn’t the first time. It happens something like this: TV stations aired footage of Hurricane Sandy as it made its way up the Altlantic. I watched gale-force winds whip around and torrential rains beat down everything in Sandy’s path. I stopped watching as soon as it hit ground in New Jersey. I haven’t seen any coverage of the event for the past few days, until today.

Granted, much of that time I was removed from the area where the storm struck. Not at home in West Virginia, I was at the beach. (The Mountain State didn’t remain unscathed either, given the winter blizzard Sandy helped spawn, pouring down by the buckets.) But I was working most of that time, so granted, I couldn’t be as tuned in as I might otherwise have liked.

And honestly, much of the early morning breakfast discussions centered around the storm. How could it not, when we had Caridad Pineiro in our midst? An intellectual property lawyer by day, Pineiro is a writer by night. Not just any writer, either. Her books are on the NYT Best Seller List. Which shows that weather systems respect no one: she lives in New Jersey just a stone’s throw from where Sandy wreaked havoc.

We discussed her concerns for her family and other people she knows in that area: friends, family and colleagues where she works in Manhattan. We mused over how bad it might be, and what precautionary steps needed to be taken to ensure safety. After Sandy hit, we also talked about how fortunate they were—while others were less so. Pineiro’s family escaped—as did mine—with only a power outage to upset their lives. (Not that this isn’t bad, just less so in comparison to what it could have been. After all, at least one fatality from Sandy occurred because the victim had no electricity for life-saving medical equipment.)

I think when it comes right down to it, the biggest reason we turn away—if we do—is because we hate seeing people suffer. Who wants to see that? Don’t we have enough in our own daily lives, with our loved ones’ health, financial or other problems? Sometimes, I think that thinking about seeing the magnitude of such destruction feels like more than we can take.

And yet not tuning in, or deliberately avoiding the news, doesn’t solve the suffering. Nor does it make it go away. So maybe a better course of action would be to reach out. Help others—even in your own community—if you can’t pick up and go help with Sandy’s cleanup. Goodness news, there’s more than enough people, all around us, who need it.

Or get out your checkbook, write a check and make a donation. To a reliable, reputable source you know is using the money to help Sandy’s victims. Among the most-needed items right now, believe it or not, are diapers. For babies. We all love babies, especially when they’re clean and cuddly.

Find your own way to help because, while we may not like what we see, time has proven that we’re a pretty resilient species, when it comes to what we’re able to endure. And besides, turning our heads is the last thing we should do in a time like this.

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Daleen can be reached at daleen.berry@gmail.com.

Editor’s note: Daleen Berry regularly gives of her time and energy through community service. She also donates financially to help those less fortunate, as she is able to do so.

Berry is the first recipient of the Pearl Buck Award in Writing for Social Change, for her second book, Lethal Silence, to be published sometime in 2012. Berry speaks about overcoming abuse through awareness, empowerment and goal attainment at conferences around the country.

Her memoir (paperback and as an e-book) can be found at bookstores everywhere, or ordered online. To read the first chapter free, please go to Goodreads. Check out the five-star review from ForeWord Reviews. Or find out why Kirkus Reviews called Berry “an engaging writer, her style fluid and easy to read, with welcome touches of humor and sustained tension throughout.” To read her award-winning memoir, Sister of Silence, in e-book format (or any other e-book), download a free app from Amazon for your phone, tablet or computer.

Her memoir (paperback and as an e-book) can be found at bookstores everywhere, or ordered online. To read the first chapter free, please go to Goodreads. Check out the five-star review from ForeWord Reviews. Or find out why Kirkus Reviews called Berry “an engaging writer, her style fluid and easy to read, with welcome touches of humor and sustained tension throughout.” To read her award-winning memoir, Sister of Silence, in e-book format (or any other e-book), download a free app from Amazon for your phone, tablet or computer.

If you want to read more than 100 reviews, go to free app from Amazon for your phone, tablet or computer.

To view the Sister of Silence book trailer, go to her VintageBerryWine Youtube channel.


Daleen Berry

Daleen Berry (1963- ) is a New York Times best-selling author and TEDx speaker who was born in sunny San Jose, California, but who grew up climbing trees and mountains in rural West Virginia. When she isn't writing, she's reading. Daleen is also an award-winning journalist and columnist, and has written for such publications as The Daily Beast, Huffington Post, and XOJane. Daleen has written or co-written eight nonfiction books, including her memoir, "Sister of Silence," "The Savage Murder of Skylar Neese," "Pretty Little Killers," "Cheatin' Ain't Easy," "Tales of the Vintage Berry Wine Gang," "Shatter the Silence," and "Appalachian Murders & Mysteries," an anthology. In 2015, West Virginia University placed "Sister of Silence" and "Guilt by Matrimony" on its Appalachian Literature list. You can follow her blog here: https://www.daleenberry.com. Or find her on Facebook and Twitter, as well as email her at daleen(dot)berry(at)gmail(dot)com. She loves to hear from readers.

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