Though a relatively week storm, she brought much rain, wind, and sand into these densely populated areas which were totally unprepared. I was perhaps most unprepared of all, with no food or water stocked up in case of emergency, no plans for a loss of power or clean/hot water, etc. So I headed to the nearest evacuation center, just a few blocks from my apartment, to weather the storm. I would make do. I would survive. And I would help others however and wherever possible.
The photos below tell my story.
After arriving at home I decided that I should devise a plan. I had not bought any food or water, so I filled all these liquor and soda bottles with tap water. My roommate was planning to spend the next couple nights at his girlfriend's apartment. Not wanting to remain alone at my apartment through a hurricane, I invited myself to join them. They bought me cheesy mac to eat and the little spice packet had a strange cautionary message.
In the evening, a few of us set up about thirty cots that had been provided by some city agency or another. There were three rooms for sleeping - one for single men, another for women, and one for families. We were told on Monday that forty people would be sent over from there, but in the end it was only about twelve.
I worked from home on Wednesday and went back to work at Darling on Thursday morning. Broadway was unusually busy for 6:30am, teeming and gridlocked with taxis, buses, police, and ambulances. The subways were still out. In the afternoon, long lines of people waited to fill up at gas stations in the Heights.
I was very proud to see that many of the volunteers at the school were comrades from either TGC or Word Up. I heart my hood!
I arrived late into the event, but waited patiently to be allowed on stage. It almost didn't happen and I had to really push forward and remind the production crew that this white boy wanted to play some music and support this cause! I awkwardly introduced myself in Spanish and rushed through my new song Sing At The Top Of Your Lungs.
The telethon raised about $167,000, which I'm sure I had nothing to do with whatsoever. Still, I'm proud to have joined my community in supporting the victims in Staten island. And somehow I doubt I'll ever see that footage, haha.
At 168th street I serendipitously met and joined a group from a Chelsea church called Dream Center. They were also headed to the Rockaways, where friends of theirs live and are coordinating relief efforst from their home.
It took almost three hours to get there by subway and bus; but once we arrived, around 11a, we got straight to work. I helped a family clear their possessions, covered with sand, water, and other debris out of a crawl-space basement. After completing this task, I sought out the YANA Community Center (You Are Never Alone), located just five blocks from the home that the Dream Center crew was based at. The YANA space is one of the main hubs for Occupy Sandy relief efforts. I found out about it when I stumbled across this heart-warming video.
The Occupy efforts were a bit disorganized, as should be expected, but I greatly appreciated the heart behind their work. I volunteered a bit of time by helping to order the aisles of this distribution center, where neighbors have been coming to find food, clothes, cleaning supplies, toiletries, and more.
Below are many more pictures from the past week, especially from my day at Far Rockaway Beach yesterday.
Please bear in mind that there is a big storm coming in today and tomorrow. These regions are expected to be hit very hard again. Please keep these desperate and vulnerable communities in your thoughts and prayers - and once the storm passes, perhaps you can volunteer a bit of time and energy yourself if you are able.
Your help is needed!