Hurricane Sandy occurred during a time of extreme political debate in our country. The day before Hurricane Sandy hit, my Facebook feed was filled with statuses either commenting on the ridiculous moments of the most recent presidential debate (i.e. binders full of women) or joking about the expected severity of this “storm” (ie: Snooki v. Sandy). It appeared the online commentary immediately before Hurricane Sandy generally was not too concerned about the severe warnings for the entire East Coast regarding this looming hurricane. Yet, less than a day after Hurricane Sandy touched down my Facebook feed became immediately somber. For, the destruction along the Eastern Seaboard left in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy was worse than many expected. Each of the presidential campaigns capitalized on such a momentous occasion to offer their most sincere messages of sympathy and support for those affected by Sandy. As I witnessed this online commentary, I became increasingly interested in the ways in which the internet has drastically changed the way in which people engage with reality. Although at the time I was more interested in the way Facebook and other social media networks lead to great desensitization of users towards the pressing reality of ill situations, I believe this project will offer me a prime opportunity to explore the way in which social media networks create a community of real-life events.
In addition to my online interest, I have a more personal investment in this work. The majority of my mother’s family lives in New York. My grandmother, aunt, uncle, and two cousins live in Freeport and Baldwin located on Long Island, NY. I have memories from childhood at my cousin’s house located right on an inlet of water. The storm completely flooded the first floor of their home, and destroyed much of their outdoor property. As a result of Hurricane Sandy, my cousins and aunt and uncle now are temporarily displaced from their home. I never would have imagined the amount of damage this storm would inflict on my family or the region. For this reason, I am committed to further exploring this event and how these communities are beginning to rebuild their homes.
Finally, my sociological ticker goes into overdrive when considering this particular event. I can’t help but to consider this hurricane in comparison to Hurricane Katrina. It seems Hurricane Katrina had a different face in the media than Hurricane Sandy, for the people most affected by Hurricane Katrina are a much different population than that of Hurricane Sandy. Hurricane Katrina displaced many low-income, minority communities, while Hurricane Sandy seems to have affected more white, middle-income families. I am incredibly interested in investigated how the difference in the two populations has shaped the renewal efforts.