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epa03453939 A roller coaster is left stranded in the ocean after Casino Pier was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, USA, 31 October 2012. The US East Coast was to start picking up the pieces on 31 October after superstorm Sandy left at least 33 people dead and damage estimated in the billions of dollars. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the largest US city was going 'back to business' and bus routes would be fully reopened 31 October. The subway would probably take another four or five days to resume operations, he said late 30 October. Some flights were to also resume. US President Barack Obama visited New Jersey on 31 October with the state's governor, Chris Christie, for a first-hand impression of the damage.  EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS ** Usable by LA Only **
November 28, 2012

Notes from the Edge of Sandy

Here in Central Brooklyn, we’re pretty lucky. Sort of. Sure we have our own disasters from which we routinely try to recover – Black-on-Black crime, failing schools, high incarceration rates, health disparities, racial upheavals, just to name a few. And while of course earthquakes, tornadoes, floods and hurricanes do strike us, nature usually reserves its most lethal visitations for other parts of town.

That’s why in moments like this it’s important for the MC to focus on the struggles of our neighbors. Our recent newsletter and our website discuss some of Brooklyn MC’s modest relief efforts, but what are most powerful are eyewitness accounts. Below is the MC’s own Marly Pierre-Louis’ concise, unembellished, narrative snapshot of what she experienced when she visited Red Hook & Far Rockaway as a volunteer:

Red Hook Initiative was coordinating volunteers in Red Hook. New York Communities for Change coordinated volunteers in Downtown Brooklyn and dispatched them to different sites in Far Rockaway. The site I was sent to was being coordinated by Councilman James Sanders.

In Red Hook I witnessed local businesses and residents pumping water out of their basements. All of their belongings were on the sidewalk or in the middle of the street. Department of Sanitation was there hauling away property and debris. Coffrey Park was roped off. Within the park the National Guard was giving out boxes of provisions to residents. I entered a 14 story NYCHA building that was pitch dark. It was unclear whether homebound and elderly residents had been evacuated yet.

In Far Rockaway, there were van loads of volunteers bringing donations to the site where I was. FEMA was there bringing supplies as well and there were lawyers providing legal services for the few people who needed it. In both places I witnessed lines of people, mostly women with children, waiting for help. Both neighborhoods are still without electricity and heat.

Based on what I saw when I was there, both places were in desperate need of batteries, flashlights, water, food, formula, diapers, wipes, and warm clothing. There also seemed to be a need for Spanish speakers in both neighborhoods to communicate with residents. For the most recent updates on relief efforts and how to help, visit Red Hook Initiative and Rockaway Recovery.

Do you have a story about how Hurricane Sandy has impacted a particular community? Email us at [email protected]

About this author

Brooklyn Movement Center

Brooklyn Movement Center

The Brooklyn Movement Center (the “MC”) is a membership-led, direct-action, community organizing body based in Central Brooklyn (Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Heights and the surrounding area). We bring together residents to identify important issues in their lives, win concrete improvements in their community, and build power. The Brooklyn MC is staffed by local organizers, supported by volunteers, governed by a community-based board of directors, and guided by an advisory group made up of activists and organizers from across the city

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