In times of need, heroes are born

Though Hurricane Sandy hit nowhere close to the Tornado Alley, its tumultuous affects in the Northeast were made obvious via the thrash of Sandy-related news media, Facebook status updates, tweets and TV.

In the past 48 hours, America was abuzz with footage of the reporters barely standing in 4-foot floods, drowned carousels and a blacked-out New York City. The city’s subway system looks like a scene from “Titanic,” and The Atlantic was in a frenzy to determine which images floating around the social media scene were authentic.

But some of the most important stories surfacing from the sea of post-Sandy news are of the heroic efforts by just regular Joes. Except they’re not regular — they’re absolutely exceptional. 

I dedicate this column to the most uplifting news I’ve stumbled across in this Superstorm Sandy Super-wave:

The New York University Medical Center NICU nurses

When the NYU Tisch Hospital’s backup generators failed and its basement started to flood quickly, the center’s officials knew they had to evacuate its patients and staff — ASAP. The hospital began transporting all 215 of its patients Monday evening to the Mount Sinai Hospital and others around the city, including its newest patients, the babies of the neonatal intensive care unit.

The nurses who transported those babies did a vertical evacuation down nine flights of stairs and rode alongside the infants from start to finish, and all while manually pumping the babies’ lungs. The hospital transferred all patients to outside locations by midnight Monday. 

Mayor of Newark, N.J.

Leadership is a tricky role to play in times of circumstantial stress, but many of the region’s political leaders held out their duties fantastically. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg made a lot of the right calls, such as mandating an evacuation of much of lower Manhattan. 

But the beacon of light in this storm was Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, N.J., who went out into his community himself to fend off danger from his people. Just to paint a picture of exactly what I mean: He drove around Newark, convincing people to move inside and transported homeless men and women to shelters. Booker kept his Twitter very active throughout the storm, constantly updating his followers about the storm’s movement throughout Newark and urging citizens to move indoors. 

Power workers from all over the country

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, 750,000 New York City residents, 145,000 Canadian homes and over 3 million people in New Jersey and Pennsylvania were left without power. Overall, the storm cut off power to over 8 million people, and the damages left in the aftermath are still being surveyed. 

Recovering from the structural damage to power lines will be a large undertaking, but in one of the truest shows of camaraderie, hundreds of power workers have come across the nation to aid in getting the Northeast back in shape. 

More than 500 workers from Alabama were mobilized and stationed in regions like Washington, D.C. and Virginia. Meanwhile, PG&E electric in California sent 150 workers to New York. 

The best really does come out in people in times of need. These stories are the ones that should circulate when we look back on Hurricane Sandy. 

When times are bad, most people hightail it out — and rightfully so. But these men and women are heroes because they faced it head on and risked themselves to put others ahead of them. Yes, Hurricane Sandy posed a real threat to anyone in its path, but these folks dared to try it to serve the ones who couldn’t get out of the way.

So when we reflect on what was Hurricane Sandy, we’ll remember how the enormity of the storm was remarkable. But, more importantly, let’s cherish the lengths people go to ensure the safety of others.

Nora is a senior in LAS. She can be reached at

Comments powered by Disqus
  1. Speak out.
    We'd love to hear readers opinions, advice and insight into the articles we post.
  2. Keep language clean.
    We will disapprove all comments that are obscene, vulgar or profane.
  3. Help us flag.
    Please report comments that are abusive.
  4. Be nice.
    All comments that personally attack the author will be deleted. No degrading comments, such as racism, will be approved.

Our comment policy has been adapted from The New York Times.

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Illini.