I was asked to document what I saw of the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy in Coney Island and in Staten Island. Obviously, the destruction caused by this storm extends well past these two areas. Much of the East Coast was directly affected by this storm. The loss is indescribable; people have lost everything, the homes that they worked hard to own, all their possessions, an entire roller coaster on the Jersey Shore. The casualties are still being counted.
Many people are asking how to help. All I can offer is my experience working on Staten Island with St. Clare’s Church. On Sunday, St. Clare’s had set up a very smart system of having volunteers go into the affected areas with detailed forms. People would tell the volunteers specifically what they needed, i.e. if a mother needed diapers for her toddler, what size. Within a few hours, people were getting exactly what they needed. Parish Manager John Gillen says, “The process is evolving, and people’s needs are changing.” The best thing for folks to do is to check the website for St. Clare’s, which is updated regularly- http://www.stclaresi.com/sandy. John Petrullo, of the St. Vincent de Paul Society at St. Clare’s and Gillen have been coordinating this effort from the beginning. As of this morning, St. Clare’s is in need of volunteers to sign up for specific shifts and tasks.
Another resource, available to anyone who is on social media, is to follow Occupy Sandy. These folks are constantly sharing specific needs in specific communities. For further information, look at inter occupy.net/occupysandy or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ OccupySandyReliefNyc.
Also, according to Gillen, a great way to help is to purchase gift cards for any major store, Home Depot, any supermarket- even Amazon.com has Hurricane Sandy gift cards. These can be distributed to the people directly in need.
Remember that the needs of those affected are changing and evolving and the recovery from this Hurricane will go on for weeks, if not months.