I never experienced a natural disaster and hurricane Sandy was the thing that got the closest to my home. With that, the area where I live hardly holds a trace of strong winds of that day, but just 20 miles East in the Rockaways – it is a different story. When I reached this narrow strip of land, I saw a war-zone like landscape with helicopters flying overhead, people in military uniforms, abandoned cars and destroyed houses. For most of us, if we don’t see it, it doesn’t exist. But this was now in front of my own eyes.
The ocean looked calm and quiet, almost gentle. It was hard to imagine that it was responsible for that much destruction.
We were cleaning out debris in a basement of one of the houses that was flooded during the storm. I asked the two guys in my group where they were from, expecting to hear Brooklyn or Queens. But those two drove all the way from Maryland the day before. And that is how I discovered the best thing about the hurricane – volunteers. It was heart-warming, especially as a New Yorker, that there were people for whom there was no better place to be on a sunny weekend day as helping out strangers after the hurricane hundreds miles away.
Check out Team Rubicon, a disaster response veteran organization, that we worked though. They know how to mobilize their people from all over the country – our team leaders flew from San Diego and Michigan.