iPhone Home Screen.
Posted on infosnack.
When a snarling Hurricane Sandy knocked the lights out at Bellevue Hospital Center on that Monday night, the staff murmured a collective chant: “One-Mississippi, two-Mississippi, three-Mississippi … .” We’d been told that if the electricity came back on before we hit “ten-Mississippi,” then the backup generators were working fine. A communal sigh was heaved when the count stopped short of double digits. Ventilators and intravenous (IV) pumps hummed on without a hitch. Downstairs, however, water was pouring into the basement, inundating the elevator shafts and disabling all 32 elevators.
On getting things done in a disaster:
A few days ago I saw a blog post showing a local Brooklyn startup company named BioLite which recently launched a product that’s basically a small portable camp stove with an ultra-efficient burn rate and an attached thermal-electric USB charging station. In the power outage caused by hurricane Sandy the guys at BioLite had come out of their offices in DUMBO and were offering hot coffee and phone charging using their handy little stoves.
I had been out to the Far Rockaways and seen the devastation out there, very reminiscent of Katrina, and I saw the hard work being done on the ground by Occupy Sandy, and I knew immediately I needed to connect these two amazing, yet disparate groups.
So I did. I tweeted at BioLite and asked if they were interested in donating some units for the effort in the Far Rockaways. And then I got in touch with Occupy Sandy to coordinate getting these delivered to where they’d make a difference.
We all set a time and a place to meet up, and today we loaded up a loaned van full of these stoves and took them out to the Rockaways. Two representatives from BioLite demo’d the safe use of the stoves to ten representatives of Occupy Sandy, who’ll in turn share the 20 or so stoves with whomever needs them, to heat up donated soup, and charge cell phones, or just to keep their hands warm.
FEMA didn’t coordinate this. The Red Cross didn’t organize this. This is just one cool company and a bunch of concerned citizens pooling their resources and skills to take care of neighbors in a disaster zone.
And that’s how I’d recommend helping, if you’re looking to help. Don’t text Red Cross $10. Instead, check out the Occupy Sandy website. They’ve even hacked Amazon’s Wedding Registry service to facilitate shipments and donations. If you’re local to the disaster area, even though your lights might be back on, know that it might be weeks or longer for areas like the Rockaways, Staten Island, and Jersey Shore, and it’s going to be a brutal winter.
This is not to say that FEMA or the Red Cross don’t do good things. But in a time like this, what’s really needed is smart motivated individuals like you and me to just say, “What’s needed? I’ll make it happen.”
Awaiting the nor’easter #hipstamatic #coffee #nyc #rain #nor’easter #northeaster
Coney Island, Brooklyn | October 29, 2012 Man against a whole lot of nature. Shot for @time #photography #photojournalism #documentary #hipstamatic #mobilephotography #brooklyn #nyc #coneyisland #sandy #hurricanesandy #wave (at Coney Island Beach & Boardwalk)
As the parents of Lulu and Leo, we want to honor our children through carrying on their love of arts and sciences education. Our children have loved the many art and science programs in the cities in which we have lived, such as Lulu’s beloved “Art Afternoons” class at the Metropolitan Museum…
I spent the afternoon out in Rockaway Beach. It’s a wreck out there. The whole community is devastated. Of course, there’s still no power—the 20 story public housing across the street has no elevators and no running water. This means the toilets don’t flush and residents are using the pitch black stairways as bathrooms. It’s horrible, this strange mix of modern amenities meets the third world. We bought groceries and other things we thought people could use and packed up my car and headed out. My friend Anthony had a connection at a church, but it was so chaotic. Then we stumbled across the National Guard/Salvation Army station and there were military types surrounding government boxes full of food and other supplies. It was by far the least popular of the stations we saw. The biggest problem we found in looking for opportunities to help was the lack of organization. We showed up at a station to help, but nobody had stepped up in those stations to direct the operation. This turned into chaos and a lot of help just wanting to do something sitting around feeling frustrated. We finally stumbled across another church. When we approached the church, a very busy gentleman was directing the operation. His name was Jose. I saw that people were cooking food. I asked if I could help. I’m a damn fine griller. And in fact, there was a grill available. We brought some charcoal so I fired up the grill. Over the course of the afternoon, I probably cooked meals for 50 people or so. But that meant I was manning the grill and mostly observing the situation. Jose was the rock of that operation.
In disaster situations like this, by far the most important aspect of the operation is organization and delineation of duty. This takes leadership. And grassroots, spontaneous operations like the ones we saw today, although they mean well, need clear leadership. It’s less about available resources and people, and more about operationalizing the help to deliver the right services and goods to the right people at the right time. As the afternoon went on, help and supplies were streaming in, and Jose was directing everything running a tight ship. As I was manning the grill, I wanted to get to know Jose. He was so busy doing such a great job, I didn’t want to bother him and his two adolescent sons he recruited to help him. But I did find out that he lives in the 20-story project across the street with no power and smelling like human excrement. I wonder what he does for a living? I can only assume he’s underemployed. But he ran such a tight ship that led to hundreds of people getting food, water, and clothing. If I had a job for Jose in my company, I would have hired him on the spot. I hope someday we can better identify the leaders of every community and give them what they need to optimize their lives.
Jose will be back at the church in Rockaway tomorrow at 7am and operations will resume until 4pm tomorrow. The church is located at Beach 38th Street and Beach Channel Drive. They need help. If you’re in NYC and can make it out there tomorrow, please go. It’s intense, but worth it.
Looks like the power is back on in many parts of lower Manhattan. I’ve been so fortunate. The most that I experienced with Hurricane Sandy was my Internet went out for three hours while I was sleeping and I can’t jump on the L train and be in Union Square in 5 minutes. But walking down to the water and seeing a darkened city bright once again brought some tears to the eyes. This city was built for us. It was built by people with a vision. Geniuses built our subway, our grid, our water supply, our city. But the most important part of NYC is that it was built with constraints. We’re a vulnerable island. But because of these constraints, we’re by far the most creative and resourceful place on earth. Our constraints, our resourcefulness, and our execution attract those of us who want— who need— to do something great with our lives. It’s times like these that remind us that people have been working and creatively thinking about restoring this city back to normal. And they’re executing flawlessly. Makes me so proud to call this wonderful place my home.
Heirloom apples from Flying Fox at New Amsterdam Market. The place where I bought these apples on Sunday was completely flooded by hurricane Sandy last night. Our farmers and markets will need all the help we can give to get back up and running.
New York, after Sandy.
Photo by Nick Summers: http://instagram.com/p/RYue5_koDz/