While there was some severe damage along the Connecticut shoreline, it kind of pales in comparison with what hit New York City and the Jersey shore. Hundreds of thousands are still without power there (exacerbated by the nor'easter that hit this week), and an aerial photo I saw this morning on Democracy Now! did remind me of New Orleans after Katrina. My friend Victorya and I drove down there two months afterward, in early November 2005, her Outback loaded with supplies. The cars piled up on city streets and the boats dry-docked in people's front yards in the bayou looked eerily like the scenes on Staten Island and other devastated neighborhoods. My four trips to Louisiana post-Katrina were always split between reporting and volunteering, and I'd like to do that in NYC, though I haven't actually done it yet, despite it being in my back yard and easy to get to on the train.
Just as we saw very little evidence of the Red Cross helping in New Orleans, it's been MIA after Sandy, to the point of being publicly chastised by the borough president of Staten Island. Yet Americans are still being asked to donate to the Red Cross, and the telethon featuring Bruce Springsteen raised money for it. I wish it would have raised funds for the on-the-ground, grassroots groups that have no money but are still somehow providing more help to desperate residents than the Red Cross. Occupy Wall Street, for one, has transformed itself into Occupy Sandy Relief. Even the name conjures up the grassroots group in New Orleans -- Common Ground Relief -- where I volunteered as a cook in a health center they set up on the non-flooded west bank of the Mississippi on my first trip, and where, on a subsequent trip, I helped plant sea grass on the north shore of Lake Ponchartrain (I think) as part of a massive, multi-organization effort to combat land loss and blunt the impact of future storms.
As I write, I'm inspiring myself to go to NYC. Check for a report in my next post.