Recently I wrote a letter to a group of my colleagues, Martha Beck Life Coaches working around the world, and they’ve done an amazing job spreading the word around and getting much-needed resources in NYC. So, I would like to share this letter with you in hopes that you can also spread the word and help.
I’m writing to you with a plea from NYC, because I know that this is a community of healers, community leaders, and world-shapers.
It may be hard for you to imagine, but today large parts of NYC resemble a war zone after the hurricane Sandy. You won’t see this in the media – it’s too disturbing and depressing.
If you think I’m exaggerating with the war zone analogy, consider this:
– 10 days after Sandy, there is still no heat/gas/electricity, no federal assistance pumping water from flooded houses (local volunteers are helping out big time, though),
– The schools have been closed for a week, and many schools still haven’t been re-opened due to sheltering evacuees (as of 11/5), severe flooding or lack of electricity.
– There is a shortage of gasoline; there’s either none to be had, or you can opt for 4-6 hour lines at the pumps. (As of 11/8, there seems to be more gasoline available; the line at our closest gas station is now only 3 hours)
We’re not talking about a 3rd world country – this is NYC.
– People’s houses are destroyed and flooded, flood water is mixed with sewage. Many need assistance with cleaning.
– Many neighborhoods still don’t have electricity, heat, or gas. Some people are displaced to shelters or to their friends’ or relatives’ houses, some have no place to go and still stay in their flooded house for shelter.
– Many of the flooded families have kids; many of these kids are unable to attend schools due to being displaced. Those who are in schools have difficulty concentrating. Their families have lost everything – photographs, clothes, furniture, and I’m not even talking about a sense of security. And there seems to be no “bigger picture” plan to put it all back together.
– There are HUNDREDS of elderly people stuck in high-rise buildings without electricity, cooking gas, food, hot water. No elevators to help them get down and get food. They need everything from medication refills and adult diapers, to food, flashlights, and warm blankets. The stores around their neighborhoods have been flooded as well, so the elderly are at the mercy of volunteers. I have heard of 2 cases of elderly people falling down the stairs trying to get down, as the staircases are dark. The presence of FEMA and Red Cross is non-substantial or non-existent, according to the volunteers on the ground.
– Most people who are displaced are exhibiting post-traumatic stress syndrome. They are in shock, it’s hard for them to assess what they need; the scope of the rebuilding their lives is so vast that they often can’t tell where to start. When asked what they need, they say: “Nothing. We’re better off than some of our neighbors, please help them.” Meanwhile, all they have is clothes on their backs.
– There is a lot of looting being reported. Many people evacuated their houses and apartments, and looters took full advantage of that. Things (whatever can be savaged) are also being looted from houses that have been flooded or partially destroyed. Gasoline is being pumped out of parked cars by the looters. Unbelievable, isn’t it? This is all according to eye-witness accounts of my friends whom I know and trust.
– People are having difficulty getting access to medical help: many medical offices have been flooded, many elderly are stuck on high floors without elevators, many families don’t have gas to drive to a doctor, and car services are scarce (many are still without gasoline).
To see how many communities are affected, look at the map. The communities in Red are in HUGE trouble, many communities in Yellow are in BIG trouble: http://gis.nyc.gov/oem/he/map.htm?lon=-73.98667836064763&lat=40.606782772041676
Here are some of the pictures from one of the communities in trouble, Seagate, which is a part of Brooklyn.
The situation hasn’t changed there much since 10/31 – still no heat, no electricity, the homes are flooded. The community is asking for hygiene products, clean-up supplies, sleeping bags, blankets, masks, rubber gloves, heavy-duty garbage bags, and most importantly, MANPOWER.
Personally, I have addresses of people in Manhattan Beach, Belle Harbor, Far Rockaway, and Staten Island, mostly people with small children and very elderly, who need help cleaning out debris from their houses, pumping water, etc..
Here is what we can do:
Many people are asking how they can help provide relief from Hurricane Sandy in NYC. Large parts of NYC still look like a war zone. In the meantime, volunteers are being turned away by larger organizations while people in neighborhoods like Far Rockaway and Seagate are crying out for help with clean up and delivering meals. Donations are being turned away while neighborhoods like Seagate are desperate for warm socks and warm footwear for children and adults, among other things. This won’t happen with any of the contacts below. My goal is to help channel your volunteer efforts, energy and donations to the organizations that are tirelessly working on the ground, regardless of the weather and such.
– MANPOWER. Right now, this is what is needed most. If you can inspire/mobilize groups of people to physically come to New York to help, that would be INVALUABLE. People are needed to deliver hot meals to houses and high-rise buildings, to check on the elderly, bring water and supplies to high-rise buildings, bring donations to the families that need them, to come with cars that gave gas in order to pick up and deliver donations, clean debris out of people’s houses. I will be happy to connect you with organizations that already have organized efforts. For example, COJECO and Clean Up SheepsHead Bay. I can connect you with community leaders on the ground in NYC once your team is ready to come.
– SPREAD THE WORD. The media is not providing adequate coverage, and the families in areas like Far Rockaways, Gerritsen Beach, Manhattan Beach, Seagate, Belle Harbor and Staten Island are virtually forgotten. Keep this info circulating, continue inspiring people to come and help, please.
– MEDIA. If you have media contacts, if you have blogs, if you have ways to put this in front of people’s eyes, please do. Government response is currently inadequate, and people in the affected neighborhoods are surviving solely on the help and donations from the volunteers.
– DONATE MONEY to organizations and individuals that are offering help locally, and are physically on the ground in the affected neighborhoods. Here are two organizations that are doing it right now: Team Rubicon and UJA of New York. They have already provided an incredible amount of assistance, and are not slowing down. 100% of the money they collect goes toward the relief effort.
– DONATE ITEMS especially if you can help sort and deliver them. My friend Yana Bigelman is collecting, sorting and delivering needed items. The last I’ve heard, she could use volunteers, as well as donations in order to buy what’s needed NOW, as the situation changes day by day. Follow/friend her on facebook if you want to know day-by-day what items are needed where.
– REAL ESTATE and CONTRACTORS assistance. If you know of real estate agents in NYC who are willing to waive their fee to relocate displaced families into reasonably priced houses, this is SO MUCH needed. If you know contractors who are willing to donate their time to help people with assessments and such, that would be priceless. (11/7 update: Bloomberg just announced a new housing resource, https://www.airbnb.com/wishlists/donated-sandy-housing but I’m certain that more is needed).
You can reach me via facebook, by e-mail at Alina@AlinaBas.com or by phone at (917) 208-8094. Email is easiest. Thankfully, my family in Brooklyn is fine. My NYC neighbors are not so lucky, though. Thank you for your help. All the best,
Alina Bas, M.A., Executive Coach