- Published on Tuesday, October 30 2012
- Written by Katie Marzullo
As a native of South Florida, I can completely understand what our friends in the Northeast are going through in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy today. For some reason, major hurricanes just love to make landfall in the middle of night, adding all the more trepidation and fear to an already stressful situation. Then, once the worst of it has passed and the first rays of morning light break through, residents emerge from their secured hideaways and get their first glimpse of the havoc.
It’s here that a brief, eerily quiet moment washes over the affected area. As tumultuous and chaotic as the storm itself is, it is always followed by an unsettling stillness, as the debris left in its wake sits before you and the weight of the situation has not quite sunken in yet. It’s that moment where you look at the mess and think to yourself hopelessly, “Where do I even start?”
Well, this grizzled hurricane veteran is here to tell you that it’s not hopeless. For those of you who have never experienced something like this before, I know it probably seems overwhelming, but don’t fret. First of all, YOU ARE OKAY. Material things can be replaced, buildings can be rebuilt. Take stock of yourself and your health, count your blessings, and breathe a sigh of relief. Then, roll up your sleeves and get down to the business of regrouping. Help is on the way, authorities are working to organize, and your friends and neighbors are willing to lend a helping hand.
For those of you unaffected by Sandy who have seen the devastating photos and videos on the news and online, naturally you can’t help but be moved and want to help. Even us folks on the opposite coast can spring into action and give our East Coast cousins some much-needed love. Here are some ways you can assist the survivors:
DONATE MONEY: The American Red Cross is always the best way to go if you want to send some cold hard cash. Their reputation is impeccable and you always know that your money is going to get into the right hands. Just make sure to designate your donation to “Disaster Relief”. Another good bet is AmeriCares, which uses your donation to go toward medical supplies and other useful tangibles in disaster areas. More locally, the State of Virginia is asking for donations via the Virginia Disaster Relief Fund.
DONATE GOODS: The Salvation Army is always on hand to give out basic materials to people who might be stranded without basic necessities like food and clothing. Likewise, Feeding America is already on the move to help out by providing sustenance to those who need it, as well as Food Bank NYC.
DONATE BLOOD: You can also donate blood through the Red Cross, but if you want to cut right to the chase, check out the New York Blood Center. Injury numbers are still being assessed, but it’s always best to be safe than sorry.
LOOK OUT FOR PETS: It’s a sad side effect that storms often uproot and displace animals, abandoned by their owners while evacuating. The ASPCA and Humane Society both work hard to rescue pets affected by the disaster. If you’re in affected areas yourself, consider volunteering for either of these organizations or even a local animal shelter.
VOLUNTEER: Evacuation shelters in affected areas will still need help even post-storm for those not able to return to their homes right away. Also, New York Cares, New York City Hall, the State of New Jersey (1-800-JERSEY7), and the Maryland Emergency Management Agency are now accepting volunteers who want to be involved with relief efforts.
In addition to all these, FEMA has provided a helpful and comprehensive list of other organizations to which to donate your time, money, and goods specifically for Sandy relief. I’m sure there will also be a celebrity telethon in our immediate future, so keep an eye out for that as well.
Taking to social media sites and spreading the word to bring awareness to the severity of Sandy is helpful as well in its own way. Celebs have already taken to Twitter to express their concerns, attempt to lighten the mood, and offer advice on staying safe. While the cast of "Jersey Shore" kept their fans posted on their whereabouts and their feelings on the destruction of Seaside Heights, Jennifer Lopez urged those in need to reach out by tweeting, “If you need a safe place to stay, shelter info avail. In #RedCross HurricanApp #Sandy”. You can also share ideas on relief efforts by using the hashtag #howtohelp.
Best wishes to everyone out east! Stay strong and be safe!
- Katie Marzullo, YH Staff Editor
Additional reporting by Hannah Greene, YH Staff
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