Sandy — The South Coast response

But for steering currents and a couple hundred miles of coastline, the misery dumped by Sandy on points south and west might have been our lot.

Which makes the reaction that started in Little Compton, spread to Westport and Portsmouth, and has since gone far and wide, all the more compelling.

It began as texting between friends, spread through the surfing community and on Facebook, and has produced convoys of critically needed supplies to stricken communities in Queens, Brooklyn and other places (read all about it and how you can help in this week’s paper).

One friend described the devastation at Rockaway Beach as being every bit as bad as what he’d seen in Third World countries helped by fellow members of the local Surf for a Cause group. News reports don’t fully convey how miserable conditions are a mere three hours down I-95 from here, he said.

The speed with which these few rallied friends and strangers is startling. Within a day, local businesses had set up as staging points for donations of cleaning materials, blankets, clothes, dehumidifiers, flashlights, food and much more that were pouring in. And a day later, two oversized vans and a truck had delivered the first loads of relief. Another larger shipment left last weekend and there is more to come.

Big companies like LL Bean and Woolrich signed up, as did smaller businesses closer to home — Blount Soup pitched in with 600 servings. Local high schools have joined the push — so, too did Roger Williams University and the Boys Scouts.

Spectators to calamity in this country too often assume that all will be fixed, the lights will be back on, and suffering will be brief because that’s the way it goes in a prosperous nation.

Except that’s often not the way it plays out. Especially as the weather turns cold, these people can’t wait for FEMA and the power company to set things right.

This response from just up the coast is the perfect antidote to all this ‘divided country’ talk. And we’re guessing that someday, when the next big one takes aim at New England, vans and trucks with New York plates won’t be far behind.

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