Phillip Gerard’s piece, “What They Didn’t Tell You About Hurricanes” really puts into perspective how differently the people who live in a place, see that place. There are so many little things that we don’t think about on a daily basis, that are so unique to our own neighborhoods.

Phillip Gerard talks about how much preparation goes into preparing for a Hurricane, how much is destroyed and some of the gruesome ways that people die. He talks about how everyone watches the weather channel and hopes the storm changes course and hits another town. Just the fact that he even talks about the aftermath–recovering from the damages done, something the newspapers rarely talk about in detail, really shows just how different places are to outsiders. The newspapers don’t convey the grief in the same way that townspeople would be able to. News people only talked about what happens to the town after the storm, and it’s only for a story. The people who lived in Gerard’s town had to fearfully live through the storms, not knowing what would happen next. People didn’t know how much of a hassle it was that the power had to go out. How long it took to get power back up. He tries to be very clinical and direct in how he describes hurricanes in his home town, but manages to convey the pain, fear, and loss that people feel when there is a hurricane. It isn’t until the very end that he reveals how hard it is to personally deal with natural disasters as a part of your life…how they can “break your heart.”

Gerard’s piece really made me think of things that are strictly unique to my hometown. Outsiders don’t know about the thumbs-up man. The thumbs-up man is this old man in my town that will give everyone a giant thumbs up and a big smile when he sees you. Everyone has that one thing that they know about their town that out-of-towners wouldn’t know. Kathleen Norris’s “Rain,” was an interesting read and managed to convey the same message as Gerard’s piece. Her descriptions of the rain are so detailed–as someone who is used to rain, I just take this stuff for granted. I think place makes such a big difference in the little behaviors of people. Someone from London might always have a raincoat or umbrella handy on a daily basis while a person from California would never think of these things.

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3 Responses to Places.

  1. amandaweng says:

    I definitely agree on your point about the disparity about how the news depict a natural disaster and how it is actually felt by its victims. I was actually at home in Brooklyn when Hurricane Sandy hit New York and was lucky enough to not have to evacuate my area when the storm hit Although the conditions weren’t as bad as that in Long Island – if I recall correctly – I remember just how scared I felt when the storm passed by and I kept on checking the photos that were being uploaded on New York Times or on Facebook throughout that week long hellhole. Lower Manhattan was covered in darkness at night for an entire week following the storm and the first floor of my high school was flooded from the outside. I saw the damage that Hurricane Sandy inflicted, although not first-hand. And I saw the generosity of the community in need of help; sharing power from their own home to those who needed to charge their phones; the Chase bank located in Upper Manhattan offered shelter and electricity to those who were homeless for a week; and the countless amount of volunteers who went to heavily stricken communities to help clean up following the storm. HONY (Humans of New York) actually documented some photos on the people who helped out during these initiatives and I think there’s a great story attached to each of the photos he took. Here;s a link to one of them:

  2. cierrarouse says:

    The idea of news portrayal of tragedy versus first person perception was definitely clear for New Yorkers’ when Hurricane Sandy hit. No matter the preparation people go through, or the things they expect to endure, actually being hit by a hurricane means. Being from Connecticut, however, last year I experienced a different trauma. I remember standing in the dining hall and seeing that Newtown had experienced a shooting. I live 4 miles from Newtown as a resident of Southbury. After finding out more and more from the news I was devastated, however more upsetting was my facebook news feeds. My friends were the victims dance teachers, camp counselors, family friends etc. Reading these types of news updates revealed a whole new realm of emotion. After visiting downtown Sandy Hook for many vigils, that became my understanding of the tragedy. Although I still couldn’t grasp it completely I definitely had a new attachment beyond any other hard hitting stories. The news focuses on the political, economic and scandalous aspects of tragedy. You can show an interview of a family’s parents but in that it is just them answering questions that a news station has set up. There is definitely a gap between the news reported and what has happened.because the news is supposed to be informational, as well as entertaining which demands a focus on drama. Just to share a different tragedy that had a very similar response from the community directly touched.

  3. aliciab23 says:

    I think your understanding of Gerard’s piece is very accurate. I liked how you put it that he even wrote at length about the “aftermath–recovering from the damages done, something the newspapers rarely talk about in detail, really shows just how different places are to outsiders. The newspapers don’t convey the grief in the same way that townspeople would be able to.” I think that is really true because the people experiencing it only know the devastation it wrecks upon their town. I also like how you connected Gerard and his experiences to your own, based upon place. The “thumbs up man” is something that only you and your town would know about, and similarly in Gerard’s piece he lives within a boating community and thus is able to give us all the details about how the boats were destroyed. I especially liked the ending, where he said “what they don’t tell you about hurricanes is how many ways they can break your heart.” I loved that line! You also made a very interesting point with regard to Kathleen Norris’ Rain, about how people change their behaviors based on place and I liked your very creative example! Very insightful post!

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