— Jenny Neill

Sandy: Extraordinary Storm, Innovative Relief Efforts

I imagined myself writing an impassioned call for donations today. In fact, I’ve been thinking about this post for a few days now. I’d figured I’d look over the usual organizations that provide support for disasters and choose a few to highlight. Thing is, Hurricane Sandy, was extraordinary in its power, size, and impact. It turns out that the recovery is pretty remarkable too.

Sandy Damage

Photo courtesy of ccho. Some rights reserved.

Earlier this year, I met a fellow who is involved in disaster recovery and crisis management efforts. I learned a little about CrisisCommons, a global community that brings together many to build and use technology tools to help respond to disasters. (Pascal Schuback, a speaker at a conference I attended in June, works as the Global Travel Security & Information Manager at University of Washington, remains one of the principal contacts.)

When I looked him up today, I found that several CrisisCamps have taken place all over the world and more are being scheduled. Many of the projects underway through this group seek to address exactly the types of problems identified by Dan Porter is his Business Insider post. Porter’s blog recounts his experience trying to get involved with Occupy Sandy and outlines problems that better use of social media and technology could solve.

Occupy Sandy is but one of a number of relief efforts to garner both praise and criticism. Instead of mobilizing for protest this time, many associated with Occupy are organizing to deliver food and other goods or services to Sandy victims. As has been reported on HuffPo and Slate, the movement has once again used social media and online tools in unorthodox ways. One example is the Amazon gift registry set up so people can purchase and ship supplies to a relief outpost in Brooklyn.

But, one need look no further than to search for #Sandy or #SandyAid on Twitter or Google+ to find numerous exclamations of kudos and gripes. While Porter complained about his attempts to lend a hand through Occupy Sandy, others are voicing outrage over what they see as unfair concentrations of aid in this or that neighborhood of New York City. The uproar over how generators and supplies for the NYC Marathon were or were not put to use since the announcement that race was canceled continued today.

Social media and mainstream news outlets will be covering the aftermath of Frankenstorm for weeks to come. Alarm is already spreading to watch out for looters and the inevitable con artists who emerge after a disaster. And more stormy weather is predicted to strike the east coast again by Wednesday.

After all my scanning and reading, I came to the conclusion that I really can’t say any one orgnization is doing a better job at relief efforts than any other. What I can do is point you to a few of the places I’ve turned to in order to find a way to help from afar: