Nov 15 2012

Occupy Sandy Outperforms FEMA and Red Cross in Relief Efforts

It has been more than two weeks since Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast and thousands of people are still homeless, hungry and without electricity. Governor Andrew Cuomo has launched an investigation into New York City’s utility company over the delay in restoring full power to all.

Meanwhile, more than a year after the movement launched into the public consciousness, members of Occupy Wall Street, in an effort to help storm victims, have re-organized under the name Occupy Sandy. Occupy Sandy volunteers have been working around the clock to bring relief in ways that other organizations, like FEMA and Red Cross, have not been able to, due to bureaucratic red tape. Occupiers have been using community networking and social media to help organize relief efforts for those in need.

Specifically, Occupy Sandy has set up centers at two different New York area churches to train volunteers to carry out relief work. Despite the fact that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said that the city has too many volunteers and people should instead help by donating money, the Occupiers say that many more volunteers are actually needed to deal with the immensity of the situation. Organizers are also creating an action plan which includes everything from removing damaged materials and clearing out mold, to physically reconstructing areas that need the most help.

While some have criticized Occupy’s efforts as mere social media networking, the activists are seeing tangible responses to their requests thanks to “hashtagging” via Twitter so users can follow keywords to learn more about a specific topic and keep up on the latest developments. The types of aid being enlisted through Twitter are medical care, food, clothing, blankets, radios, vehicles to transport donation items, experienced electricians and others with skills that can help reconstruct the stricken communities.

A creative effort to bring in much needed items for the Occupiers has been the creation of a wedding registry through Amazon.com. The occupiers have provided a wish list of essential items such as water pumps, saws and disposable cameras for victims to take photos of their property damage for insurance claims. So far, $100,000 worth of items has been ordered by individuals through Amazon.

GUEST: Tess Cohen, an organizer with Occupy Sandy, Sarah Jaffe, independent writer and journalist whose work has appeared in the Guardian, Jacobin, and more

Find out more at www.occupysandy.org.

Click here for the Occupy Sandy Wedding Registry.

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