I was a bit freaked out about this storm on the night before it hit, which increased as the hours passed and I followed my bud @occuweather’s tweets regarding the storm. Having come through the storm with minimal roof damage and a leak, I started checking in with family and friends to ensure they were fine.
I got a call mid-morning on Tuesday from two awesome friends and fellow occupiers, Laura and Diego, who needed help locating shelters and hubs in Red Hook and Rockaways since those areas were horribly hit by the storm. I had power and was ready to do what I could. I had no clue how I would find places, so I started with Red Cross Locations as locations. I had a dry erase board that I planted on the ground and started listing shelters by borough and plugging in these places with cross-streets on a document. I got FEMA number and info for Spanish-speaking people as well. Keeping in contact with both Laura and Diego, I sent this information to them. They printed and canvassed areas to provide information door to door to anyone who needed it.
This sent me on a whirlwind of an adrenaline-fueled anxiety rush that intensified as I kept seeking information. I decided I had to use what I could to get the information out to anyone I was connected to about shelters and FEMA and any details that would be helpful. It dawned on me that I needed to send out information to people regarding New Jersey. I tried to get verification from friends and family of what conditions were like where they lived or had family, and many couldn’t respond, which I confirmed later was due to loss of power. I still kept posting on Twitter and Facebook, the information I could and thought would be of use.
More and more Occupiers began plugging into the group of people trying to mobilize efforts to reach out to all the communities that were in desperate need of water, food, and basic supplies. Reports kept coming in about Barrier areas in New Jersey and then NYC and the other boroughs. I was so overwhelmed and felt hopeless that all I could do was gather info and post, update and tweet out. All forms of transportation were shut down and I was home with my son, hoping to shield him from the hurricane porn and my own panic over the destruction this storm had caused.
In what seemed to be less than 24hours Occupy Wall Street morphed into @OccupySandy and I was tuned into the hyper speed network from an angle I had never experienced. Once the group found the ability to tackle efforts for NJ, I began gathering more info to assist with this aspect, which is now called @OccupySandyNJ. It was a bit easier to gather data since I have family and friends in different areas of NJ, and I used them as sources of information. I was connecting w lots of people through Facebook that were and still are working toward a common goal of making sure the communities that could be reached had or could attain what they lost in the storm. I got super addicted and was sleeping 3hours a night for the first five days after the storm. Being part of how this came to be this wonderful efficient expanded system of #mutualaid still amazes me and baffles me because it was so rapid.
At the first opportunity to get out on the ground and canvass areas that were possibly hardest hit I headed south on a train and met other occupiers who were ready to push this through for NJ with me.
Fast forward to today. We have multiple hubs in NYC and the boroughs and NJ has Hubs and great connections in at least 7 communities with countless drop off zones all over the state. I am currently the connection for the central hub in Newark NJ, which runs 24/7, feeding large groups and accepting donations from everywhere, which the entire community in Newark comes to in order to begin the process of putting their lives together.
The stories of empowerment that we hear on our nightly conference calls, through twitter and on Facebook keep fuelling me to push through. I have never been so proud and equally amazed at the occupy community that I belong to. I am extremely humbled by the people within the communities I grew up in because of how we have banded together to defeat the threat and devastation this storm posed on our lives. It has manifested into #mutualinspiration. It has been a gift to be so involved in this effort because knowing how this all came to fruition and that the beauty of humanity is continually winning in the face of devastation, gives me hope that my son will inherit a community full of humanitarian support, interdependence, and above all LOVE!