Nov 09, 2012

Every Bit Helps: Reaching Out to the Victims of Hurricane Sandy

Our hearts go out to all of those who have been affected by Hurricane Sandy. The storm has caused billions of dollars in damage, devastated healthy communities, and upended the lives of millions of people. Even now, more than a week later, hundreds of thousands of people in New York and New Jersey remain without power, or are unable to reach their homes. People are in desperate need of help.

Hot's NY-based writer, John Cantwell, sent us an email on 11/2 reporting what he experienced upon venturing out of his Brooklyn apartment and into lower Manhattan. Things in Manhattan have improved since last week, but this will give you an idea of the ways—big and small—in which people have been touched by the storm.

I walked over the Williamsburg Bridge into lower Manhattan, which is still completely powerless. Eerily quiet streets and some difficult scenes, like people dumpster diving through spoiled food the supermarkets had thrown away. Avenue C, which had been slowly revitalized in recent years, with lots of good bars and restaurants, had been submerged under six feet of water: yesterday I saw the owners and staff just gutting these recently-hopping places. I wonder what will happen to them; it's doubtful they have flood insurance because Avenue C is at least a half mile from the East River. No one's ever seen anything like this.

My plan was to continue uptown to 40th street, which is the line between power and no power. I thought that would be an interesting boundary to explore. But along the way I bumped into my friend Sarah, from college, who told me she was headed to volunteer with elderly folks who were trapped in high-rise public housing developments (no electricity means no elevators, which means these people are stuck until the power comes back on tomorrow).

So I went with Sarah, and we spent the afternoon climbing through a sixteen-story building, knocking on every door, delivering water, flashlights, and batteries to anyone that needed them. Some people took the supplies, others just wanted to talk, but most refused anything because they felt there were people in the building that needed help more than them. Younger neighbors were looking after the older ones. We found a woman crying in the pitch-black stairwell because she was trying to carry groceries and was starting to feel claustrophobic. So we took her bags up to her apartment and then we met her eighteen-year-old cat, Repeat. I carried a baby up the stairs for a mom.

Needless to say, I feel immensely grateful to have helped in whatever small way I could. This has been a really trying time for the city (and for New Jersey, too—my beloved Jersey shore is in ruins), and the effects of Sandy will reverberate for years to come. The best I can say is that people have really rallied to help one another. Humanity is still awesome.

"Humanity is still awesome."

We want to encourage you to be part of the awesomeness and suggest a few ways in which you can help the relief efforts that will be going on for a long time to come.

Here’s what Jennifer Kilian, Principal and Creative Director in our New York office, had to say about Hot New York’s contributions to the relief efforts:

Thank you so very much to all of you who were able to get out and buy/bring things in to donate to the victims of Hurricane Sandy. We had bags full of donations containing: Blankets, diapers, wipes, feminine products, masks, gloves, socks... and more!

Adam, Nancy, and I dropped everything off in the heart of the storm area on Long Island yesterday, the Rockaways, during the nor'easter. We went to the firehouse and met with lovely volunteers and firefighters who were doing their best to keep the area going. They were extremely appreciative and thought we hit a home run with what was included in our bags of donations.

Interestingly, when we asked what else they needed, they said, carbon monoxide detectors that are battery operated. Apparently since folks still don't have power and heat, they are keeping their gas stoves on for warmth which is proving dangerous. And, blankets or anything warm, are great. They said they don't need any more clothes.

We will be receiving donations from Hot SF next week and will go on another drop-off run, this time hopefully to Staten Island in honor of Maria.

Thanks so much for upholding the Hot spirit!

At Hot’s San Francisco office, we’ve organized a clothing and goods drive, the collections from which will be sent to our colleagues in New York for distribution. The weather’s getting colder back East (a gnarly nor’easter hit the tri-state area earlier this week) and people still need blankets and warm clothes, among many, many other things. Every little bit helps.

Here are a few organizations to consider contributing to if you haven’t donated already:

The American Red Cross

Humans weren’t the only ones affected by the storm. The ASPCA has set up hundreds of emergency centers to tend to animals injured or left homeless by Sandy.

Architecture For Humanity
Architecture for Humanity provides design and construction services after disaster. As part of its Hurricane Sandy reconstruction efforts, the organization, with which Hot worked as part of Cameron Sinclair’s TED wish, will focus particularly on disaster mitigation and providing technical assistance to underserved communities.
Donors Choose focuses on school rebuilding efforts, and makes it easy for people to help students in need.