mid-week (post-sandy) randoms
– It’s only Wednesday and it already feels like the loooongggest week in the office. I suppose that’s what happens when you’ve only had to work two days last week because of Hurricane Sandy. OK, I admit that one of those days might have been spent home with a hangover after excessive drinking on Halloween…BUT, going into work would have been useless since our server network was down the whole week due to the power outage and flooding downtown.
– I ate so much food during Sandy that I disgusted myself. Seriously. I was a gluttonous pig.
– I felt kinda guilty having weathered the storm without any real ill-effect (other than busting out of my now-too-small pants). I signed up for Volunteerathon, signed up with local food banks, signed up for various volunteering efforts. I heard back from Volunteerathon and was assigned to cleanup on Staten Island. Then I felt more guilt because I don’t own work boots (or any appropriate “hard, dirty work” footwear for that matter) and couldn’t go. I tried to quell that guilt by cleaning out my kitchen of any food I could donate, my linen closet of any towels/sheets/blankets, my medicine cabinet of any unopened toiletries and medical supplies. Then I went to CVS and Duane Reade and bought various medical, personal, and baby products to donate. I gave money to various sites. I did what I could do from the confines of my safe, warm, dry home for those without. But I still felt crappy about not being physically doing something.
On Sunday morning, I hauled my loot to a local church about 3 blocks away on Fifth Avenue, right across from Central Park. When I got there at 8AM, I asked the woman in charge of the intake of donations if I could stay and help. I’d help sort, load trucks/cars, whatever was needed. Luckily, she let me and I stayed on until 3PM, when they stopped receiving donations and the last car load of goods left.
Along with 4 girls from the NYC alumni chapter of their sorority, a few families who belong to the church, a random other person and me, we accepted and sorted through hundreds of bags of clothes. Received and organized hundreds of bags and boxes of food. Received and organized another hundred bags of personal products and baby products. Received and organized about 50 bags/boxes of cleaning products. A delivery truck dropped off about a dozen large cases of food/water. We were so confused where this sizable donation was coming from. Turns out it was donated by one of the Rockefellers.
The generosity of my Upper East Side neighbors was astounding. And this was a small operation as the church was really only receiving donations from its patrons or random people who passed by the church. I only happened upon the church via a tweeted picture of the sign out front asking for donations. I recognized it was the church on my street and upon further investigation saw that they were starting to accept donations at an earlier hour than other churches and synagogues in my area. The early hour was my main reason for choosing that location over others. Other more advertised/publicized receiving places were getting tons more than what we got and I was floored by what we processed in just 7 hours at the church.
I was also in awe of those who stepped up and volunteered to drive the goods down to the NYPD staging/distribution site in Queens. Gas is a limited resource with hours needed to wait in line to get a max of 10 gallons. People dropped off donations and upon hearing that we needed more cars to transport the stuff, went home and picked up their SUV’s and came back, filled their cars to the top, and made the trip out to Queens. Those people were awesome. One woman returned to the church after transporting stuff. She walked in with two big bags of adult diapers saying that they were requested by the folks at the distribution center and left them with us. Another came back to do a second trip.
When we heard that various sites put a hold on receiving clothes, someone contacted someone who knows someone and blah blah blah. We were able to transport and store hundreds of bags of clothes in the dining room of a (very nice, huge and expensive) duplex two blocks from the church. I walked into the place and my jaw dropped. The dining room was bigger than my apartment. On one of the walks over there and back, I met and chatted with one of the other volunteers. He was very handsome, very tall, very nice, and very age appropriate. Of course, he was very married with kids. Of course he was.
Three days later, I’m still a little sore from carrying and moving heavy bags and boxes. But it was worth every ache and pain. I’m pleased that in my advanced age and decrepit state, I can still carry a 50lb case of water about 25 yards without issue. I’m going to try to find construction boots, because they are probably a good thing to have anyway. You never know what kind of situation you’ll be in and Uggs, high-heeled suede boots, or well-ventilated (read: very airy and light) running shoes aren’t going to cut it.
My heart still breaks for those who lost everything and their loved ones. I hope my smallish contributions helped. I thank everyone who contributed time, money, goods, or warm thoughts to the recovery efforts. I hope that I can speak for those of us on the East Coast and say we really appreciate it! xoxo