While counts of the toll the two storms that hit the northeast in recent weeks continue toward a final tally, people of the area busy themselves donating to others still in need, waiting in gas lines, resuming (or trying) semblances of normal in their work and personal lives, while others wait for electricity and struggle to stay warm. 400,865 homes in the eastern U.S. remain without power as of yesterday. The least fortunate of us trudge the long uphill road of grieving lost loved ones. For those, the pain will last long past the clean up crews and news media. For those, the recovery never really ends. The death toll of victims in the U.S. has reached 120. At last count, it was close to 70 victims in the Caribbean, hitting Haiti (52 fatalities) the hardest.
Flashes of hope of the basic compassion of humanity are present in the vast relief efforts underway. From local long-standing businesses such as Two Boots Brooklyn, organizing food and clothing drives, to the new and innovative Mealku, making sure those who have lost much are receiving home cooked meals. And of course there are so many others lending a hand and organizing volunteers: Red Cross, NYC Mayors office, New York Cares, Congregation Beth Elohim, Occupy Sandy, the Humane Society (leading pet search and rescue efforts), Staten Island Recovers, and of course The Salvation Army. If you are donating, please remember the victims in Haiti, whose suffering is all that much greater given its extremely impoverished state and particularly vulnerable to the effects of natural disasters and global warming. Please consider contributing to groups such as Direct Relief and International Medical Corps and Americares.
Most everyone I know is in some way in the trenches, whether by helping a family member or hard hit local business (like Rocky Sullivan’s in Red Hook – my friend, part owner, was there with a pump before realizing the task ahead was too great — he was able to keep himself safe but the bar/restaurant itself has suffered serious damage). (Please check out this NYT blog post if your small business was affected by the storm). Others are rolling up their sleeves and coming from our of state to see what help still needs to be done. At Greenwood Cemetery, they’re busy removing the 150 trees that were destroyed during the storm, and restoring many broken monuments. Donations for that restoration are being accepted online.
Please let us know of other disaster relief efforts you are supporting, what people can do to help, and any useful links you may have. In the wake of so much destruction, the helping hands of others is the real source of recovery.
After my power was restored, 2 family members who were still without power came over, 2 dogs in tow. A couple days later power was restored to one of their homes and they left to stay there, and a full week went by before the second had power. It was no big deal on my part and it helped them through a rough patch.
A friend who was out of state for that whole week called and asked if I could go over his house and check things out. His wife and son were staying at their neighbor’s after the water broke through some glass doors. Only 4 or 5 miles away it was an interesting drive. Inoperative traffic lights, fallen trees, flooded streets, the usual drivers who wouldn’t let another car in- and many who did. After sealing up the broken doors and turning off a few gas valves I got a good look at gas station lines, a couple that seemed to be minutes away from violence. The police were out directing traffic around down power lines and keeping a few gas lines from turning into trouble. I was glad to get back home, and was determined not to venture out again for as long as possible. In the end I was glad I could be of help. While I actually did very little in the grand scheme of things, it did help a few people and 2 dogs some.