Last week, Hurricane Sandy hit New York. I was one of the million or so people without power or water. The day after we walked past downed trees and the looted stores at South Street Seaport (someone really wanted sensible women’s office wear).
flares guiding people onto the blacked out Williamsburg Bridge
A week later, we’re fine, but much of the city is not. The Rockaways, Red Hook, Staten Island, and other neighborhoods are devastated. Me, Fred, and photographer Kate Black hitched a ride on the 666 Burger Truck to Rockaway Parkway, to hand out delicious fried foodstuffs. One girl nearly wept, at having had her first hot meal in a week.
In the Rockaways, Red Cross has little presence, and FEMA is mostly there to survey damage. Wrecked boats block intersections, and people’s entire possessions are covered in toxic sludge and piled out with the trash. We passed gas lines 20 blocks long.
Burger truck in Rockaway
In situations like this, where the government is failing, we have to be good to eachother. For people wanting to volunteer, Occupy Sandy is doing a fine job in Red Hook, as is New York Communities for Change. The Ali Forney Center, which helps homeless LGBT youth, was devastated. Other people with construction experiance, like my friends Veronica Varlow and Burke Hefner, are going down to the Rockaways to help clear out flooded basements themselves.
Read Sarah Jaffe’s powerful article for Jacobin on mutual aid.