This past week, we’ve had a love/hate relationship with water. In our line of work, more water is usually a good thing. But in the last few days, we saw the devastation caused by the water surge during Hurricane Sandy on the Eastern Seaboard, and were all reminded of the damage water can do. Human beings can’t live without water for more than a few days, but yet a surge of water can destroy everything in its path overnight.
We’d like to share what we’ve been doing and thinking about at charity: water since Sandy hit our shores last week.
Our office and about half of our staff members’ apartments lost power the night that Sandy touched down.
We immediately contacted every one of our staff to make sure they were safe, and thankfully all were. We were encouraged by many of you who reached out to us with your concern. We learned that our office building would be closed for at least a week, and started looking for a place to work. The morning after the storm, we called longtime supporters Lynne and Steve Foote, and asked them if they could help. They said yes, and invited us to set up shop in their living room. They fed us, pumped us full of caffeine, and let our staff take showers for the next four days. We were reminded of the importance of our work when on Tuesday night, we signed an agreement to grant more than $2.6 million to fund water projects in four countries that will help 145,056 people get clean water.
We also learned that the 69th Regiment Armory (where we’ll host our charity: ball gala on December 10) became an active National Guard outpost, with army vehicles and personnel ready to deploy to affected areas.
Images started coming in. We saw the total devastation on the shores, and the many people left homeless. And then, some supporters sent us a photo that hit us hard.
Many people didn’t have running water in their homes, and started opening fire hydrants and filling up Jerry cans and buckets. This shocked us. We never thought we’d see this happen here in our backyard, and the images were almost identical to what we see every day around the world.
What we did to help.
The power came on in our office and most of our homes this weekend, and we’re incredibly thankful for that. We’ve also spent a lot of time thinking of those who’ve lost so much. Many staff and interns got involved personally over the weekend, bringing needed supplies and food to people in the housing projects in Chelsea and the Lower East Side.
Understanding what’s needed going forward.
The biggest confusion for anyone wanting to help so far, has been figuring out what’s needed, how much, and where. This morning, our team met and assigned two key staff members to survey the situation and understand how we can best help our local communities in the days, weeks and months to come. In the next few hours, we’ll post information here on our blog about how and where we’ll be collecting essential items to help victims of the hurricane.
In the meantime, we’d love to acknowledge the outreach efforts of three churches in our area who’ve been driving out to the Rockaways, Staten Island and Jersey Shore with supplies, blankets, batteries and food all week. They kindly allowed us to be a small part of their relief efforts here in the city this weekend. Check them out here: