I spent 10 years in NYC. I consider it a second home. I love NYC and it’s breaking my heart to watch what is happening and feel so powerless. So I decided not to be powerless. I gave blood first. I don’t have a lot of cash at the moment so I looked for the next thing. I wanted to have a positive impact. So I found ways. If you have any facility with social media you can be a big help at a distance. There will be a need for this help in the weeks, months and years ahead. Real recovery will take a long time. Here’s how to help from where you are:
1. Translate any relief or recovery message you see which has been embedded in an image from pixels to text. Or offer to help any group with this work. Image memes and messages in jpegs are not accessible and will not reach some of our most vulnerable people. When you create an image message ALWAYS provide a text alternative. Here are some guidelines for making your content accessible. tl:dr if you see a relief meme on facebook with critical info type it out if the page owners have not.
2. Interoccupy has been recognized as doing a terrific job responding on the ground and quickly to the most vulnerable. There is no red tape just a direct path to getting involved. Go to interoccupy.net/occupysandy – Volunteer for tasks which can be done online http://interoccupy.net/volunteer/
3. Get on twitter and watch these hashtags #sandy #sandyrelief #sandyvolunteer #sandyaide – retweet or try to get that information to people who can help onsite. Amplify messaging from reliable sources. Try to get information to the right people. Look for other hashtags for specific locations along the East Coast and in the Caribbean and help them amplify as well.
4. Share videos of what’s happening on facebook. The crisis is much deeper than the mainstream media is reporting. Help get attention to specific problems.
5. Like these pages on Facebook and respond to requests as needed ( Occupy Sandy Relief NYC and Giving Back to Those Affected by Sandy and Occupy the Hood ) These communities are doing great work. Jump right in. Also look for other facebook pages where people are doing good work along the East Coast. Many groups are targeted to specific locations. If you grew up on the East Coast start a page for your hometown if it has been impacted. Contact the leaders in that community and let them know the page exists.
6. Connect with animal support groups and assist in reuniting people with their pets or finding permanent or temporary homes for pets by posting images around the web, making phone calls and helping folks connect.
7. Respond to specific people on social media who are requesting help by linking them up with resources near them. You have the bird’s eye view. In the chaos, shock and stress – thinking is really difficult.
8. MIT started hurricanehackers.com for tech projects assisting in relief efforts. Many of their projects rely on crowdsourcing information. You can help if you are a programmer – and you may be able to help simply by gathering information for a project. Also Ushahidi has several projects you can help with – http://blog.ushahidi.com/index.php/2012/10/29/hurricane-sandy-in-maps/
FastCoexist has a good piece on hurricanehackers.com and other efforts here.
9. Act as a rumor control sentinel. There have been many rumors flying – let your skepticism be your guide and help track down the truth. Help folks sort through the confusion. Sharks in Jersey! FEMA jobs! FEMA Rumor Control and Snopes: Hurricane Sandy are good places to check things out.
10. Share good news about how people are stepping up. People get overwhelmed and demoralized without knowing there are GREAT things happening. Help everyone be part of the solution. There is real power in WE.
11. Look for issues outside of NYC and NJ. There’s stuff going on up and down the East Coast and in the Carribean particularly Cuba and Haiti but elsewhere as well. The US media is focused on NYC and NJ primarily. Share solutions happening in NYC with places where folks are not plugged in to all the incredible work happening there. Share what works!
12. Share this list and let others know there’s a lot more we can do from far away. There is no need to feel like you can’t help – because you can! Reblog/Reweet away!
13. Help translate text to other languages. Do this only if you are fluent. Don’t use online translations for relief work. They are just not that accurate yet.
Added after Nov. 5th 2012
14. Send items directly to distribution hubs via this Amazon registry. Send ANYTHING you can buy on Amazon. Amazing.
If you have suggestions for improving this post please comment below. Also please let me know if you have any other ideas about how people away from the area can help via the net.
I’ve noticed attention from the media on people and their needs has dropped off severely. Perhaps it’s just the last day of the election season. But I fear that the news will move on and we will all be distracted when the hardest impacts hit home. It’s getting colder every night. The needs of people impacted by Sandy will be ongoing for months and years. Please help them by giving your attention and access to your networks.
Also – Tomorrow Nov 6th 2012 – VOTE BABY VOTE. It matters no matter where you are.