Social Media, Communities, and Disaster
Post published November, 2012
It’s day 4 after Hurricane Sandy hit, and I’m just as anxious as I was waiting for the storm. Fortunately, my home is located in a safe zone. Unfortunately, many of my friends’ and loved ones’ homes aren’t.
The calls, texts, and Facebook messages continue, “Are you okay?” Sigh. Thank god. “And the house?” Oh no …
Mill Basin, Rockaway, Breezy, Sheepshead, Brighton, I love you all so much. I wish I could share my warm bed and hot shower with you all, and although this seems like a horrible nightmare, it’s amazing to see our communities come together.
After spending Monday acting as a newsfeed for those without power and Tuesday carrying gallons of water out of my friend’s basement with buckets, the end doesn’t seem much closer.
Although this seems like a horrible nightmare, it’s amazing to see our communities come together.
Wednesday we worked out of our relocated office. Then, after work, Kira (who has written of her own moving account of her experiences here) and I made our way out to help at the FDR High School Shelter. We were brought out as the result of a valiant effort by a close friend to organize pick-up stations around Brooklyn to deal with the gas shortage which was preventing people from coming to help.
We finally got there and jumped right into helping as bus loads of people were newly arriving at the shelter. Everyone was in high spirits, and it was a pleasure to help. Seeing our community show up with loads of clothes and food donations—everyone ready to go and pitch in to help their neighbors—was amazing. My friend’s numerous Facebook posts payed off :
Facebook in general has proven an amazing tool in this uncertain time. Apart from being a reliable source of information (e.g., the FDNY Incidents link which lets people keep track of where the ongoing fires are), it has also helped locate people’s families and gather emergency contact information.
Such was the case with two 90-year-old women at the FDR Shelter:
Overall it has been … well, I literally cannot find a word to describe my feelings. How are you supposed to feel when someone says “Rockaway as you know it doesn’t exist anymore” or “My home looks like a third world country”?
Tonight my friend who lost his home in Breezy Point will be staying with me, and if we can get gas to my other friends, they’ll be able to have a hot cup of coffee and a shower for the first time in 6 days. They’re a strong bunch. They’ll be okay. To quote a Rockaway native: “There’s a reason we’re the ones protecting the greatest city in the world!”
New Yorkers as a people are resilient and have an uncanny way of turning their usual independence into a rock solid support system.
I know a lot of my friends are just tired. That’s what they keep saying, but I also know that New Yorkers as a people are resilient and have an uncanny way of turning their usual independence into a rock solid support system.
To my tired friends—the reinforcements are on their way. Everyone who calls New York their home is making their way back from all across the country.
Stay safe, stay warm, and if you can help in any way, go out of your way and do it.