I read this article the other day, and was absolutely horrified. While reviewing some class notes, this excerpt from Native to Nowhere made me think of it again. Obviously I’m not saying this horrible event was caused by sprawl, etc, but it’s just something to think about.
The 39-year-old Staten Island mother of two was desperately seeking refuge as Superstorm Sandy crashed into and pummeled New York City with flood waters and drenching rains. Her SUV stalled and she frantically unbuckled her sons, 2-year-old Brandon and 4-year-old Conner, from their car seats as the water furiously rose around them.
Speaking with police, Moore recounted clinging to tree branches for hours, grasping at anything to protect her children as she searched for help through the torrential downpour. Finally managing to make it to the home of a neighbor, she knocked on the door, pleading for assistance. A man, Allen, allegedly peered through his door and refused to let her in. Determined to save her boys, she went around to the back of the house and attempted to throw a flower pot through the window, to no avail. Once again determined to brave the catastrophic storm, she clasped her young sons close to her and continued to search for shelter.
Then the unthinkable happened.
“She was holding onto them, and the waves just kept coming and crashing and they were under,” Moore’s sister told the New York Daily News. “It went over their heads … She had them in her arms, and a wave came and swept them out of her arms.”
Timothy Beatley, Native to Nowhere (pg. 18-20):
Strengthening place and rebuilding commitments to the local realm will not be easy, and we will have to overcome some difficult cultural, social and economic obstacles. The busy ways we lead our lives and the extent to which we are increasingly disconnected physically and emotionally from our physical, biological, and geocultural contexts are much of the problem. Urban sprawl and car-dependent landscapes mean that Americans spend an inordinate amount of times in these vehicles of detachment.
[…] Cultural trends suggest that Americans are increasingly reverting to the private realm, eschewing many of the traditional public or civil patterns that help to cement community bonds. As homes have gotten larger and time more precious, home and work occupy much of our waking existence.
[…] With minimal civic involvement, little time or inclination to know one’s neighbors or one’s community, it is perhaps not surprising that there is considerable fear and anxiety about “others.” Both a product of our current culture and a considerable obstacle itself to strengthening place and community, this fear often keeps us apart. We fear the unexpected knock at the door, and we worry that reaching our to others, including our immediate neighbors, will unleash unknown risks.