Hurricane cleanup continues

Photo courtesy OccupySandy Facebook page

The morning traffic today, Monday morning, seems little improved, in fact possibly worse, than last week in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. I’m taking advantage of my Android’s WordPress app to blog a little to pass the time. It appears we are heading for the Queensboro (59th Street) Bridge again; I guess the Midtown Tunnel is still closed. Mayor Bloomberg’s restrictions on East River crossings (no one can cross with fewer than 3 people in a car) seem to have no affect on things.

However, as I pointed out to a friend over the weekend, bitching about a long commute seems rather petty compared to what many have gone through in this storm.

When 911 occurred I was still living in NJ, and I felt helpless. I wanted to help but I had no skills, either as an EMT or in construction. I know there were some who just showed up and were able to help, but many were turned away because it was creating more work for others to direct them on what to do. One friend was a licensed massage therapist and he went down and offered his services to workers after they’d spent long days digging through the rubble. Another friend who was in AA set up a meeting place on site. For those struggling with a horrific time– especially those who had lost friends and family–who were possibly considering the “relief” of a long drink, this kind of support was vital, he said.

So I wanted to do something to help Hurricane Sandy victims, now that I was a New Yorker and knew people affected by the devastation. Where to go? How to reach people who needed help? If I went somewhere would there be too many volunteers with nothing specific to do? Initial searches online gave me that impression–everyone tweeting under the hashtags #sandyvolunteers or #sandyaid (and a few similar ones) were talking about how they wanted to help but not much about places that needed help.

But eventually I found AstoriaRecovers.org and OccupySandy, who were working together to coordinate delivery of food, blankets, cleanup supplies, etc. to one of the hardest hit areas, The Rockaways. (Recovers.org and OccupySandy are also working in Brooklyn and Staten Island).

A person wishing to volunteer simply had to register on a website and would then be given regularly updated info about what area needed help.

People were running out of gas (the gas lines were multiple blocks long yesterday), but my husband and I hadn’t used our car since Tuesday and had close to a full tank. So when a notice was posted that they needed drivers to take volunteers to the Rockaways, I signed up. You just had to post your name & phone number & indicate how many people would fit in your car. I signed up to drive on Sunday morning, and probably within 20 mins three volunteers had posted that they wanted to ride with me. I guess I was involved now!

(to be continued) For some photos of the OccupySandy efforts over the weekend, click here.

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