Michael J. Salamon

Hunkering down

The storm is here! Many residents of several neighborhoods faced with mandatory evacuations in the New York, New Jersey, Maryland and adjacent areas have actually evacuated when told to, most of them families with young children. The “Frankenstorm,” a storm of record-breaking intensity, never before seen on the eastern coast of the United States, has forced the closing of all schools, trains, buses and other means of public transportation, tunnels and even bridges.

I have not evacuated despite the requests of our political leaders. I am a member of the Medical Reserve Corp and was called up. The call, though, was voluntary and I have a frail father who cannot make an easy transition to a public shelter, not to mention the dog that cannot come with us to the same shelter. Even if we chose to go a shelter and we can get help for my Dad the shelter for animals is in a different direction. You say forget about the dog, right? None of the neighbors have gone either. So I have not evacuated and I did not accept an assignment to assist others in a different shelter. It’s not that we are brave or crazy for staying home but sometimes evacuating in place makes the most sense. Hopefully this is one of those times.

The hype about this storm may actually be real this time. You know how they say that if you are on a commercial airliner the only time you have to worry is when the flight attendants look worried? The same applies in this case. The meteorologists have that deer-in-the-headlights look about them. They are either in complete awe or shell-shocked or both. They are talking about how a hurricane fed by warm currents has switched to a nor’easter, fed by cold air, intensifying the storm.

I look out the window and I see the trees swaying like teenagers at a club, and the change in air pressure is playing havoc with everyone’s sinuses. The pictures of people surfing or wave-riding in waves of over 15 feet, powered by wind gusts of over 90 miles per hour, are not the norm. In fact, they are anything but normal. There are individuals who have no fear, but they are not the norm and they do not represent in any way those individuals who have chosen to hunker down and ride out the storm in the safety of their homes. This is not a matter of bravery — that story will be told once the storm has gone. The people who were put into a situation of having to rescue others are the brave people. And we do know that bravery is often more a result of circumstance then temperament.

Someone asked me this morning what the moral of this storm is. I answered: Pay heed to the awesome powers around us and do everything possible to be safe.

About the Author
Dr. Michael Salamon ,a fellow of the American Psychological Association, is an APA Presidential Citation Awardee for his 'transformative work in raising awareness of the prevention and treatment of childhood sexual abuse". He is the founder and director of ADC Psychological Services in New York and Netanya, the author of numerous articles, several psychological tests and books including "The Shidduch Crisis: Causes and Cures" (Urim Publications), "Every Pot Has a Cover" (University Press of America) and "Abuse in the Jewish Community: Religious and Communal Factors that Undermine the Apprehension of Offenders and the Treatment of Victims."