Neighborly Acts of Altruism and Resilience Post-Sandy

As Superstorm Sandy roared through New York and New Jersey, most of us saw the horrendous pictures of flooding and destruction wrought by the storm on the news and on our social media feeds. Then came the final hours of the election campaign, and suddenly many of us not directly impacted by Sandy are no longer hearing about the aftermath.

The truth is that while many people have had their power and utilities restored, there are many still with out. Lines for the few gas stations that have power are immensely long, and this is leading to price gouging by a few “enterprising individuals“. In especially hard hit places such as Queens and Staten Island, people have been evacuated, or are trying to survive without access to utilities and basic services.

In response to this chaos and suffering, stories of ingenious resilience, and heroic neighborliness have emerged. Stories such as:

1) The fourth grade girls who dropped off bagged lunches for the hungry, complete with motivational drawings on each bag.

2) The New York Food Truck industry serving free lunches to the hungry in hard hit areas, in conjunction with volunteer staffers.

3) A real estate company that stays open at midnight in the middle of blacked-out Manhattan during the storm to give neighbors and police officers a place to charge their phones and use the bathroom.

4) Neighbors and businesses in New Jersey who offer free mobile phone charging and wifi to their neighbors who have no power.

5) The medical professionals that pulled extra duty and stayed on to help those that needed help the most. It’s no surprise that they did, but lets salute them anyways.

6) Neighbors with means looking out for those without.

6) Newark New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker who hosts powerless neighbors and becomes the social media information clearing house for post-Sandy Newark.

7) Occupy Sandy – folks from the Occupy Wall Street movement who’ve taken upon themselves to organize an onsite relief volunteer corps and supply logistics network for New York and New Jersey residents in need.

Particularly impressive is @OccupySandy’s ingenious use of the wedding registry to coordinate donations of supplies needed. They have two locations set up to receive these shipments. Just follow instructions at the top of the wedding registry pages. Unfortunately, Amazon charges shipping. My measly $120 supply donation had $80 shipping charge tacked onto it. Also the performance of Amazon’s wedding registry system is poor, and frequently displays an “I’m sorry” page. I presume they weren’t expecting 1000’s of people to be hitting the system. Imagine if Prince William had registered his wedding on Amazon. This would be an excellent opportunity for Amazon to branch out into a new kind of community service. Last note: the New Jersey site seems to be getting less supplies than the New York site. Read this article for details.

How you can help post-Sandy recovery and resilience

I’m not going to pretend to know who is the best charity to donate to. As some fairly recent press has shown, donating used supplies isn’t necessarily the best way to help since relief agencies simply don’t have time to sort them, other than Occupy Sandy as described above.

My employer, SAP, recommends its employees donate money to one of these three organizations:

Or, if you are more of a grass-roots kind of person, you can tweet to @OccupySandy and @SandyRegistry and ask them directly how you can help.


  1. As the largest private funder in New Jersey, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation has been in the thick of Hurricane Sandy recovery issues for several months now, so we have some giving suggestions:

    We chose to give $1 million to our colleagues at the Community Foundation of New Jersey to help establish the NJ Recovery Fund for long term recovery efforts. Many other local and national foundations have also contributed to the Fund, but there is still great need for additional resources to support nonprofits and communities most impacted by Sandy. The Community Foundation also has a Relief Fund for short term relief needs. We’d highly recommend making donations to CFNJ to either fund. Details are here:

    We’d also mention that Jersey Shore Hurricane News has done an excellent job connecting people through Facebook and getting donations to those who most need them in Sandy-impacted communities in New Jersey – and also providing people with a sense of community. Find them here:

    Thanks for sharing these stories of compassion and community!

    • Thanks so much for the information! As I mentioned via Twitter, we found a lot of inspiration in these stories. After all the cameras leave, in the end, all you have his yourself and your neighbors to clean up the mess, and grow again what was lost. A neighborhood’s ability to bounce back is resilience. Organizations such as yours are part of what makes a neighborhood resilient.


  1. […] to see this in action, even in neighborhoods with a lot of transplanted residents, just look at the stories of neighborliness from New York and New Jersey in the aftermath of Hurricane […]

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