I’m sitting on the sofa with a blanket wrapped around me to keep the cold off of my feet. Last week northern Cali enjoyed a few days of unseasonably warm 80º weather. Today it poured down rain and the house is a little drafty. The thermometer drops below 60 and I get a bit uncomfortable.
Poor, poor me.
After reading my friend/bro/teammate’s recent postings, I feel like such an asshole for complaining about a slight chill around the house.
While many of us have been caught up in the elections, our neighbors to the east have been recently suckerpunched by a nor’easter that’s just dumped snow on an already wounded area. Temps have been cold enough to kill, and people are dying.
Rather than sit here wasting time feeling guilty, I’d like to share what’s been going on in his area, and implore you to click on any of the links below to help.
YOU CAN HELP, even if you can’t get to New York, or donate thousands of dollars. The people mentioned in this post have been there at the new ground zero, boots to the ground, and they see what’s happening and what’s needed. Please remember that we’re all supposed to be in this together; take that little bit of effort today to do a lot of good.
Since Supes, Batman and Spidey only live on the big screens and in our minds, I’d like to urge all of you real-life, everyday heroes to take up the call. Thank you for your help!
After spending a few days there in the midst of the cold and chaos, I asked Zero of the New York Initiative if he would share just what’s going on in the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy, and this recent cold front. Stranded here in Cali due to weather conditions, he and the New York team were in action within 24 hours of his arrival back home. Some, like Dark Guardian and Doc Avencha had already been in motion as soon as Sandy subsided.
Me: When you got back into New York, where did you go?
Zero: The first day I arrived too late to be sent out anywhere, and instead made contact with an Occupy agent who drove me to Home Depot and Costco to pick up Superhero’s $500 donations goods. We got what was on their “most needed” list, some of which ended up being baby formula, diapers, flashlights, batteries, work masks and gloves.
When we got back I hung around and helped carry stuff and generally got more information about their relief efforts. I am extremely wary of large groups of people with money, so I wanted to be absolutely sure of who I was working with.
The second day I returned with Tsaf and Doc, and after we had our internal NYI meeting, we crossed to St Jacobi’s church to volunteer.
Tsaf and I were sent to Coney, 2828 Neptune, at a church that had set up as a medical station/donation center. We quickly found the nearest actual mission and coordinated with them.
The third day myself and Doc arrived at Occupy Sandy to find that the snowstorm was rapidly approaching and the only med station at Far Rockaway had no heat and no one else to deliver heaters because they were evacuating the area. Doc and I kind of looked at each other like “are we doin’ this, we’re doin’ this” and loaded em up, grabbed 10 gallons of kerosene from Home Depot and took what proved to be a 5 hour (total) journey into the storm, stayed for a bit collecting extensive intel concerning their needs list, and then busted back out into the storm.
It was crazy because most of the cars were packed going the other way… We were one of the few going into the area. When we got near it, there were like 4 military trucks making a loose blockade of the road, but no one actually guarding it so we slipped past with our goods. Otherwise, it was deserted until we got into the town area.
The town was lousy with huge sand piles that the hurricane had washed up, and the plows had tried to displace from the streets… At least half of the buildings were completely demolished, and all had extensive water and structure damage.
Nevertheless, the doctors and volunteers in the nearby area (med center in an abandoned building, and a small soup kitchen under a tarp across the street) tried to keep each other in high spirits. Strong people.
Me: How did you get there? Is there still public transportation available?
Zero: (We rode in) A transport delivering goods. It was still difficult to get gas yesterday, so when a transport left, people were generally jumping at the opportunity to get into the hardest hit areas to work.
Me: What did you bring?
Zero: Food, blankets, flashlights and batteries, water, a lot of other stuff.
Me: What did you see when you got there?
Zero: Coney island is covered in sand. More than half of the car windows are busted out and taped over, and the wind is blowing sand around in huge clouds. Police and Red Cross everywhere, but none of them actually moving. They’re just… there.
The buildings are pitch black inside. All power is out, so literally NO security systems exist, which means all the security doors of the countless high-rises are open to whoever wants to come in. Homeless people are living in the hallways, which is good for them, but there is a high-tension feeling of absolutely no safety for anyone. Feces is everywhere, and there is no heat.
There are no police or security inside the buildings, so no one is guarding the people.
The only group that genuinely seems to care (and without pay) are the Occupy volunteers. They move around the area utilizing the very little help they’re given by the authorities, going inside the buildings in teams of 4-5 (with no security) and knocking on every single door in the building to see if people are ok, see what they need, make a list and come back with supplies.
Then the teams exit the building, re-convene in the designated spots and relay the list back to the church a few blocks away. From there the supplies are carried either by car or by hand back to the people in the buildings.
This is absolutely necessary because some of these people are either too old or too infirm to make it down the 10-15 flights of stairs and back up again. We had to help a few people carry their supplies back up the stairs a few times.
Me: What does the current relief effort look like?
Zero: Officially, I did not see anyone handing out anything except for at the church, and it was all regular citizens bringing supplies in large vehicles from other locations… Upon further questioning it was all either personal efforts or Occupy Sandy related.
Half of our team left at dusk due to the lack of security, but a lot of us stayed and continued well past dark.
Me: What do you think they are needing the most at this time?
Zero: You can find this information, constantly updated, at http://interoccupy.net/occupysandy/
– along with information on where to donate, and where to get rides for volunteering. It’s a pretty organic system with little to no red tape besides waiting for the rides and signing some paperwork. Literally takes under a minute. Name, email, number, expertise. That’s it.
Me: What can we do if we live in NY, near the devastated areas?
Zero: You can either donate or volunteer. DO NOT show up at the sites without seeing what is needed. DO NOT show up to do photo shoots. DO NOT hang around doing nothing in the areas. Unless you’re ready to work, please stay away.
DO NOT show up in a costume or I will make up a story about you and have you arrested. I am not kidding.
Me: What can we do if we live outside of NY?
Zero: Donate smart, make sure you know your organization with some background searches (Red Cross only uses a small percentage for relief efforts and from what I’ve seen is not diligently helping people, but that might be an individual thing), keep us in your prayers.
These photos and more can be found at: http://darkroom.baltimoresun.com/2012/11/suckerpunch-noreaster-adds-to-the-misery-of-superstorm-sandy-victims/#1