Sandy Relief and Recovery

How You Can Help in NYC
The Shambhala Meditation Center of New York is organizing a day of service to assist Hurricane Sandy victims today, Saturday, November 10. While many of us cannot go to NY to help out, we can provide supplies and support.Chelsea Allinger, a sangha member from NYC, is rallying support for those in need. Chelsea invited any individuals who wish to donate money to do so on the Red Hook Hurricane Relief website.

The Reciprocity Foundation, which is funded by the Shambhala Trust is offering post-Hurricane Sandy support at it’s center on 36th Street for the whole month of November. Additional food, counseling, massage/acupuncture, meditation and group workshops will be offered for any youth affected or displaced by Hurricane Sandy.

Here is Chelsea Allinger’s description of the situation on the ground in New York City:

In Sandy’s wake, neighborhoods across our city are suffering incredible devastation. The storm surge hit at high tide. Almost 14 feet of water flooded the coastal areas. Cars were upended and floating down Wall Street. All of Manhattan below 34th Street lost power and it wasn’t restored for 4 or 5 days; some are still without power. Sangha members walked across the bridges to get to parts of Brooklyn where they could stay with other sangha. Residents who had nowhere to evacuate had no water, power, heat, food — and since it’s Manhattan, many were on 8th, 12th, 17th floors of their buildings. Volunteers mobilized to carry water and food up to senior citizens.

More than 100 houses in Breezy Point, a coastal neighborhood, burned down because the fire department couldn’t reach them due to flooding. All around the coast, from Rockaways to Gerritsen Beach to Coney Island to Sheepshead Bay, entire blocks of houses were washed away or knocked over by the flooding. Many thousands of other homes that have been left standing were nonetheless flooded — we’re talking basements filled to the ceiling with water and several feet of water on the first floor.

I read that the storm has left 30,000 – 40,000 New Yorkers homeless, and more than 100,000 have applied for emergency rent assistance because they can’t get back into their apartments right now due to damage. Many of the coastal neighborhoods are working class, and there’s a lot of public housing out there. These are families who do not have the means to cope with this devastation.

As the storm was descending, I read online that NYU Medical Center had flooded and lost power, and both its back-up generators failed. My friend is a pediatrics resident there, and she confirmed that doctors had to carry Pediatric and Neonatal ICU patients down 13 flights of stairs, and the ones that were on ventilators had to be manually bagged to keep them breathing. My friend was with the less-critical pediatric patients and wasn’t evacuated until 3am, at which point she realized how severe the damage was: the first floor was flooded, windows were blown out. It’s going to be weeks before the hospital reopens. Amazingly, all the patients made it out safely. Other hospitals lost power, too, and had to evacuate.

My coworker told me that her sister’s house in the Rockaways flooded, the whole basement full of water. She doesn’t have power and has been told it might take a month to come back. The bridge that the subway crosses to get out there won’t be back in service for weeks, so they’re really cut off from the city. Cell phones don’t really work out there because the towers aren’t working.

My dear friend lives in a house on the ocean in Connecticut that flooded, both basement and a couple of feet on the first floor. She needs to replace walls, floors, cabinets, appliances, furnace, fence, deck, doors. She said she feels lucky because the houses across the street from her are either gone or crumbled.

All seven subway tunnels that go under the river between Brooklyn and Manhattan flooded. The train I take was finally restored today; the last one to come back. Its tunnel had been filled to the ceiling with water.

Looting has become a serious problem in the coastal neighborhoods that were hardest hit. I’ve been reading reports of people who have no power, no water, no heat, but are hunkering down in their damaged homes because they know if they leave, their homes will be ransacked. Others returned to their homes after evacuating to discover they were the victims of looters. It’s horrifying.

…Hopefully it does paint a picture of the magnitude of what we’re dealing with. It’s unprecedented.