If you're lucky, you've emerged from Hurricane Sandy's siege on the U.S. Northeast without much, or any damage; if you're really lucky, you're just sitting around with Internet and power and food but nowhere to go because of possible trees down and other weather debris, and in New York City, at least, the subway is likely to be down for several days. (Limited bus service in the city will be back as of 5 p.m. tonight, and it's free, per NY1.) A lot of us for whom the big impact is past—and keep in mind: in other places, she's only beginning—want to help, but what to do, without getting in the way? We've compiled some options for you.
Simply, stay inside. Help people who are trying to clean things up by staying off the roads. Don't go wandering around outside if it looks at all dangerous. As Mayor Bloomberg has reminded us, when you invite harm to yourself, you invite it to the first responders who will have to rescue you if things go awry. Nature can be pretty dangerous; so can downed power lines. Don't touch them, don't get near them. Don't call 911 if you don't have a life-threatening emergency. Don't call 311 unless you have a real issue to report (downed trees, for instance). And, if you have neighbors or friends nearby without food and water or power or Internet access, offer to share, as we've seen many people on Twitter and Facebook already doing. If you have elderly or ill or, hey, any neighbors, check on them and make sure they're O.K.
Donate to the Red Cross or another organization. As you may already know, you can text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation (it's really easy). You can also donate online via redcross.org to help provide shelter, food, and support to those affected by the storm.
Jennifer Abbey for ABC News adds that "nearly 100 Red Cross blood drives were cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy so blood supplies are low in the areas affected the most." Thriive editors point out that's "a shortfall of 3,200 blood and platelet donations that would otherwise be available for those needing transfusions." In order to give blood, you should schedule an appointment with the Red Cross. "The New York Blood Center is urging people to donate blood for those in the New York/New Jersey area," writes Abbey—go here for more information.
Other organizations working to help Sandy's victims to whom you can donate: the Salvation Army, Feeding America, AmeriCares, World Vision, Save the Children, and Samaritan's Purse, writes Abbey. The Food Bank for New York and the Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties in New Jersey are also accepting donations and possibly volunteers, according to Thriive.
FEMA provides other national donation resources, and remind you to donate responsibly.
In New York City, volunteer at an evacuation or support center if it's safe to get to. Or, local spots that need you. According to a tweet from @zealousidler, the "Park Slope Armory will DEFINITELY need volunteers tonight, tomorrow." The Armory is serving as a medical/special needs evacuation center; there are others as well. Per Brokelyn's Tim Donnelley, "To help Councilman Lander, go to John Jay HS Evacuation Center on 7th Avenue between 4th and 5th Street, and at the Park Slope Armory (Medical/Frail shelter) at 361 15th St. between 7th and 7th Avenue. Volunteers are needed for minimum 6-8 hrs shifts, and must be adults (no kids)." (Check first, as we hear they may be full up with volunteers and clothing donations at this point.)
Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz tweeted a link to shelters in the area that may be in need of help. We suggest contacting them before you head out, for most efficiency. At Storify, @PE_Feeds has an updating list of volunteer sites.
Brooklyn Exposed has compiled a list of those seeking volunteers as well: @RedHookLobster may be in need of a walk-in freezer [PROBLEM SOLVED]; Brooklyn Tech (evacuation center) needs donations of bath towels, reading material, and such; @brooklynbridgepark needs volunteers for Hurricane Clean Up tomorrow (RSVP). The Observer's Steve Huff adds that The Lower East Side Recovers suggests using #SandyVolunteer to search Twitter for volunteer opportunities. And from Miss Info: "Donate to Team Rubicon, Iraq War veterans who are volunteering their rescue expertise."
Register to volunteer. According to NYCService.org's Facebook page, "there will be various ways to volunteer to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy." They ask people to email firstname.lastname@example.org with their names, email contacts, and boroughs. "There will be ways to volunteer today and over the next week as opportunities arise," they explain. Mayor Bloomberg concurs:
You can also go to NYCService.org and register yourself or your organization to get available volunteer opportunities in the area, and you can follow NYCService.org on Twitter, too. Public advocate Bill De Blasio is collecting names of volunteers who want to help, as well:
And, you can register as a New York Cares volunteer here, to be part of their disaster response team.
Anything else? Let us know and we'll add it.