The sun keeps peeking its head out in New York City today, which is a huge blessing since so many New Yorkers plan to spend the day volunteering to help clean up parts of Brooklyn, Staten Island and Queens. I somehow miraculously was able to get to Boston Thursday night to do a gig there yesterday, and when I came home last night I drove through the West Village in a ride share with a nice lady who lived there, and the streets were still pitch black. It was as eerie and strange as all of my friends in Manhattan had described, so I can only imagine how thrilled residents of the East Village and Lower East Side must have been when their power came on around 5 pm yesterday. It looks like today will be the first day of subway service between Brooklyn and Manhattan, so it’s easy to think that “The worst is behind us,” as Governor Cuomo said in a press conference today, but that all depends on where you’re looking.
The devastation in Staten Island is much worse than was initially reported. 23 Staten Island residents died as a result of the storm, and Mayor Bloomberg has made it clear that more dead bodies may be found as the hardest hit areas of the five boroughs are cleaned up. Thankfully, a group of runners who planned to race in the now cancelled New York City Marathon have organized “a run to distribute food and supplies both in relief centers and door to door throughout Staten Island.” That’s what I was hoping would happen, since getting to Staten Island is the particularly difficult part for New Yorkers who want to help — with or without cars — since there’s no gas to be had anywhere. If you’re interested in participating in the run, visit New York Runners in Support of Staten Island on Facebook.
With so many people and places in need, it’s hard to figure out exactly how and where to help, but I bought a bunch of supplies last night and will be donating them via a church in Park Slope. For those of you looking for tangible ways to get items in the hands of people who need them as quickly as possible, here are several avenues:
- The Brooklyn Community Foundation has an exhaustive list of how and where to help or donate this weekend.
- Occupy Sandy has a list of shelters all over the city and how to help there/what they need.
- Recovers.org has more ways to help in Staten Island.
- The Tunnel to Towers Foundation has created a fund designed to “benefit those that have been adversely impacted by the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy on the New York City and New Jersey coastlines.”
It’s worth noting that when you donate to Red Cross disaster relief, not all of your funds will go to benefit Sandy victims. Some funds go to administrative costs and others go to other disasters. The Staten Island borough president complained that the Red Cross has not been on the scene there.
Finally, it’s with a heavy heart that I mention the state of the New York Aquarium. I read early on after the storm that the aquarium was flooded, and I couldn’t even bear to think about what might have happened. As it turns out, almost all of the animals were saved, though some fish were unfortunately lost in the disaster. According to Crain’s New York, “The New York Aquarium may have to evacuate its 12,000 water-dependent creatures—from hulking walruses and sharks to turtles and teeny fish—if power isn’t restored to the Coney Island, Brooklyn, facility soon.” The aquarium is closed indefinitely, and the Wildlife Conservation Society says, “it will be months before we can reopen our doors.” If you’ve got even $10 or $20 to spare on top of the other donations you’ve made, making a contribution to The New York Aquarium will help save precious marine life. The first field trip my daughter went on in kindergarten was to the aquarium, and I know many of my friends have memories of spending time there as children. It’s just one of many places on Coney Island that was completely torn apart by Sandy.