Post-Sandy Relief: Rallying in the Rockaways

Hurricane Sandy touched down in the Northeast on October 29. While the storm was severe enough to prompt Yale University to cancel class for two days, the minor disruption we felt in New Haven was nothing compared to the destruction and devastation people faced in New York and New Jersey. Many of us at Yale SOM have called New York home at some point in time—some grew up there, some did undergrad there, some worked there after college, and some currently take the train into the city weekly for career-related endeavors and weekend fun. Keenly aware of how lucky we are to have escaped Sandy unscathed, it only makes sense for us to do whatever we can to help others who've lost so much.

I spent this past Saturday with two other SOMers (Will and Zach), an SOM partner (Eliza), and several of our personal friends in Rockaway, Queens, to help with post-Sandy relief efforts. Driving through the Rockaways was a stark reminder of just how much help is still needed several weeks after the storm swept through the area. Looted businesses were boarded up, piles of debris loomed in front of homes, and cars and boats sat stranded in the middle of the street. Large swaths of the neighborhood still sat in darkness, meaning countless families have been without power for more than two weeks now.

Eliza and her friend spent the day going from door to door to check on residents and take note of what resources and supplies they needed most. Will, Zach, and I spent the day at the Arverne Edgemere Community Center receiving, sorting, and distributing clothes, blankets, flashlights, food, water, medical supplies, cleaning products, and baby supplies to community residents who had been severely impacted by Sandy. When we arrived at 11am, the line of people waiting for supplies already wrapped around the block. As soon as the community center opened its doors at 1pm, a continuous stream of people flowed through the doors until the center finally had to close four hours later. I can tell you that I had the privilege of working alongside a local resident who spent the entire week working 10+ hour days at the center, as well as another young woman who had been volunteering the last three days even as her own family still needed help themselves. To see that kind of selflessness and resilience was inspiring.

And finally, an open message to everyone in the Yale SOM community who donated supplies at last weekend’s SOM chili cook-off and on-campus throughout the week, provided cash donations at the Tight & Bright party (used to buy supplies that were donated to the Arverne Edgemere Community Center), has volunteered or plans to volunteer their time (SOM is organizing more volunteer opportunities in NY, NJ, and CT over the next couple weeks), or has helped out in their own personal way to support the disaster relief efforts: you truly blow me away with your generosity of spirit, and I’m so proud and grateful to have you as classmates and friends.

About the author

Jen Chan