Nine months is a long time to work in a parking lot, but that's exactly what a handful of our staff did after Hurricane Sandy hit. From November through August, we've had 4 full time staff members running operations from various parking lots - first in Far Rockaway, then Marine Park - but on Friday we bid a fond good bye to the days of office trailers and port-a-potties. (Well probably not port-a-potties, it is almost New York Cares Day Fall after all).
It's been a long and challenging journey since Hurricane Sandy hit New York on October 29th. After the immediate response, we knew the next phase would be clean up. Back in November, we learned about the "muck out" process from Team Rubicon. After Team Rubicon left to work in other locations hit by disaster, we continued the process of cleaning out water damaged homes. Every day, volunteers would show up to tear down walls, clean out sand from basements, remove floors, and more, to get houses back in liveable conditions. We got through a lot of homes since November, and helped a lot of people thanks to the dedicated work of our volunteers. Now, almost a year after the storm hit, we're moving on to the next phase: rebuilding.
We've already started one rebuilding project at the All American Soccer Club that you can sign up for right now. But in the coming weeks we'll have trainings for volunteers interested in leading rebuilding teams. Join us on September 19th or 28th for a training where we'll prepare you to lead your own rebuilding group.
Unlike our muck-out operation, which we organized and ran ourselves, we'll be returning to our regular model of working with Community Partners. We'll send volunteers to Friends of Rockaway and other organizations who will then send teams to homes and community organizations to repair storm damaged buildings. It's going to be a lot of work, and we can't wait to get started.
We'd like to thank the Marine Park Golf Course for housing our office trailer and pods full of supplies since February. We're sure our presence led to a lot of confused golfers wondering why there were dozens of dirty people in Tyvek with power tools coming and going every day.
We also can't forget Carol Chang, Seth Shapiro, and Dakotah West who have been working in the Rockaways since the storm hit. (You may remember them best as our staff who recreated famous paintings). Whether they were scouting homes, organizing bus loads of volunteers, working on weekends, or leading teams of volunteers themselves, they made sure everything ran safe and smooth. Carol and Seth will continue to work on rebuilding projects, while Dakotah will go back to managing his Youth Service volunteers, who missed him terribly while he was freezing in a parking lot.
Stay tuned for more updates on rebuilding projects, but make sure you sign up today for ones already listed.
By Susan Torres