How You Can Help Make Things Better Post Frankenstorm Sandy

Some of you shared with us your plans for hunkering down with various forms of alcoholic beverages and seasons of the L Word, Real or otherwise, and now all of you who did indeed spend the storm hunkered down with television and alcohol are eager to help out those who didn’t.

You’ve seen the photos of New York, you’ve seen the photos of  New Jersey underwater, you know one or twenty or one hundred of the millions of people without power. Lizz, a queer artist in New Jersey, just told me that the power company just called her and said she can expect power again on November 11th.

After backup generators failed workers at the Tisch Medical Center were forced to evacuate over 200 patients. (AP Photo/ John Minchillo)

Major natural disasters connect us at the basic core of humanity; they also highlight vast economic and cultural disparities with the human  (and non-human) suffering that results.

There are a lot of political hot button issues Frankenstorm Sandy is forcing us to face to the tune of billions of dollars, not the least of which is climate change. Lots of people were up in arms about Mayor Bloomberg’s possible plan to go ahead with the NYC Marathon Sunday. (The NYC Marathon has since been cancelled.)

If you’re someone in the NY area who’s minimally affected by these issues, you don’t need to feel guilty, but you should feel grateful. And you can channel that into helping the people who are still in dire need of help. Lower-income areas especially haven’t received the same level of support that other parts of the city have, and marginalized people have even more issues to deal with during an extreme weather crisis than their more privileged neighbors – for instance, in areas where power is out, electronic benefit cards can’t be used to buy food. Sandy has made economic divisions of the area even more extreme than usual. There are people who still need help urgently, but they may be in parts of the city that the news isn’t talking about. So if you’re lucky enough that you and the people you love are taken care of, please, help take care of other people, too.

People and pets evacuate on one of the last ferries out of Fire Island before the storm. Kathy Kmonicek, AP


NYC area community efforts:

  • Fellow Brooklyn resident and Autostraddle writer Katrina gathered resources for those looking to volunteer their time and money to help those impacted  by the storm in Brooklyn. This is a great resource for under-served areas like The Rockaways, which was devastated by the storm and many residents haven’t eaten for days.
  • Dykes on Bicycles sent out a call for volunteers for several initiatives in the LES and Red Hook.
  • A fundraising initiative with a goal of raising $500,000 for those living in Breezy Point, Queens  has raised nearly $23,000 and explains their goal of rebuilding a destroyed community.
  • Lower East Side recovers is organizing funds, volunteers and tracking the needs of the LES community in conjunction with OccupySandy.
  • HSUS is on the ground in NY and NJ providing emergency animal shelters and accepting donations of $10 via text message; text ANIMALS to 20222″ to make a donation to the HSUS Disaster Relief Fund. New York City evacuees with pets at home: Please call 347-573-1561 for help reuniting with your animals.
  • The Red Hook Initiative is doing amazing work including serving hundreds of hot meals to the Red Hook Community and sending out doctors to make house-calls, follow @rhinitiative for up-to-date donation needs
  • The Park Slope Armory is housing many evacuees and is in need of volunteers, including those able to stay for late night shifts
  • The Cinnamon Snail is offering free vegan food from their vegan food truck to those in the Rockaways and to others impacted by Sandy. You can donate to support their work  by sending money by PayPal to [email protected].
Communities outside of NYC:
General info for volunteering and giving money/resources:
  • As always, Rachel Maddow has some  pointed words on how this disaster will impact the election scheduled for next Tuesday. Maddow also offered useful advice on when it’s appropriate to donate canned goods and when a simple $10 donation to the Red Cross may be much more appropriate.
  • There is an urgent need for people to give blood.
  • Occupy is organizing many efforts under the Occupy Sandy Relief project and you can get regular updates by text message by texting “occupysandy” to 23559.

NYC’s public radio station WNYC 93.9 is providing coverage of coverage from Sandy and can be streamed online here. Please share any additional resources in the comment section below and we will continue to update this post.


Since this piece originally ran we have posted to other related stories including the Renegade Sandy Relief project with Holly Miranda and the devastating news about the flooded and destroyed Ali Forney Drop–In Center.  The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission has also learned that 22 years of their archives have been flooded and destroyed. All of these projects are seeking financial donations.

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

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Jamie J. Hagen

Jamie lives in Boston and is currently a PhD student in Global Governance and Human Security at the University of Massachusetts Boston. She is a freelance writer and also a team associate for the Boston chapter of Hollaback!.

Jamie has written 76 articles for us.


  1. So grateful…Those of us who were downtown in the dark didn’t know the extent of the damage and death. We were too busy fighting for places to recharge our phones(even without internet service), get a drink and have a hurricane hookup. Seems so selfish after seeing what other people were going through. Just donated, but wish I did more. I am ashamed and disgusted. This is happening in our city right now.

  2. I can’t do any of those things since I’m broke and thousands of miles away but sending all the good vibes I can muster :c

  3. It’s kind of disappointing that all of the causes listed are only helping out upper income areas. Are there any initiative that’re helping out people in the Rockaways or around Coney Island? Hell, Staten Island got dealt some of the most severe damage and I haven’t seen anything pointing me out to where I could go to help folks there either.

    All of that aside, hoping all without power or water on here get it soon, and that I can get to school on monday D:

    • The first link under “What you can do” (the list compiled by Katrina) has information/links on how to help in areas like the Rockaways, Sheepshead Bay, Coney Island, and Staten Island.

    • I highly recommend you check out the OccupySandy website. The website has up to date info on where to drop off/pick up goods and where to volunteer. They are organizing their own efforts and have information on other efforts as well.

      These initiatives are in Coney Island, Staten Island, Brighton Beach, Sunset Park, Red Hook, Rockaway, etc.

      • thanks so much for this compilation, jamie. have you done any hands on work with the occupy folk? lemon & i are planning to go tomorrow but i can’t get hold of the main contact listed on their page, and i want to be sure we show up somewhere we can be the most useful.

        • Hey Vanessa! Today I went to the OccupySandy site in Clinton Hill at 520 Clinton Ave and they were pretty organized. They were sending out people on “Trick or Treat” missions in the area to try to get batteries and flashlights to take out to areas without power. They also are making thousands of meals and taking donations.

          After stopping by the OccupySandy headquarters in Brooklyn I headed out with a friend in a car of volunteers to Red Hook. We were with a doctor who went out and made house calls organized by the Red Hook Initiative. I ended up volunteering at Visitation Church at 98 Richards and Verona in Red Hook packing food in bags to hand out to the community.

          How did you fare?

  4. friendly reminder that sandy also hit the caribbean and haiti is seeing an increase in cholera because of it.

  5. You can donate directly to Waves for Water ( who is sending water, clean up crews, supplies, etc.. directly to those hit hardest on the coast in NJ, NY and NC.

    All proceeds from the sale of After Eleven Apparel’s surf film, You Look Swell, will be donated to the hurricane relief efforts (available online at

    You Look Swell features local NJ surfers and was partially shot in parts of NY and NJ that have been hit hardest by the hurricane. The NJ surfers featured in the film are currently in Long Beach Island, NJ, leading clean up efforts in their hometown.

    Also, After Eleven Apparel and Waves for Water are collaborating on a tee shirt that we will be selling to raise money for the Waves for Water Hurricane Sandy Relief Initiative. Check back on the After Eleven website for that.


    After Eleven Apparel

  6. I’m on an emergency response team currently still working in Louisiana to help with long term Hurricane Isaac recovery, but many of my teammates are in New York running shelters. Please please PLEASE read this article before helping out. The worst thing well intentioned volunteers do is create what we call a “disaster within a disaster,” and stress an already taxed emergency management infrastructure, sometimes to its breaking point.

    Also, if you don’t necessarily want to donate to UMCOR (although they are an excellent organization with a long reputation of doing good, honest service), find a local chapter of the organization you do want to donate to (Red Cross, United Way, etc.), and make sure to specify that you want your donation to go to Hurricane Sandy efforts in that location. Otherwise most donations just go into the general coffers that pay for regular operation expenses, salaries, etc.

    For example, you could donate to the Hoboken Red Cross, to be used for Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, and that money could only be used there and for no other purposes.

    And for the love of GOD, don’t send clothes.

  7. THANK YOU for mentioning Westerly, RI!

    Even in local news coverage, my town has been neglected in favor of reporting on Narragansett, Block Island, and Matunuck (areas that also need your help, but are more prominently featured on television!)

    Please consider donating to the Misquamicut Relief Fund, because we are less likely to receive money than more well-known communities. Our lovely little town is dependent on the summer tourism at our ocean-front businesses, many of which are currently under 5 feet of sand…

    We are also putting together a beach clean-up for the Friday after Thankgiving – so if you are in the area and want to get involved, let me know!

  8. the Ali Forney Center’s drop-in center in Chelsea. This weekend workers were finally able to access the building and assess the damage—which has tragically rendered the center “uninhabitable.” Please consider making your Sandy relief donation here.

    “This is a terrible tragedy for the homeless LGBT youth we serve there. This space was dedicated to our most vulnerable kids, the thousands stranded on the streets without shelter, and was a place where they received food, showers, clothing, medical care, HIV testing and treatment, and mental health and substance abuse services. Basically a lifeline for LGBT kids whose lives are in danger.”

    “It’s destroyed. Water went at least four feet up the walls, and everything in there, including phones, computers, refrigerators, supplies, and the building floors has been irreparably damaged,” said Carl Siciliano, the center’s executive director. “I do not see us being able to return there, especially since our lease ends in January.”

  9. organises bus shuttles to bring volunteers from downtown manhattan and brooklyn to the heavily impacted areas such as staten island, rockaways, south brooklyn, to assist at food&water distribution sites

    • Awesome! Do you have a direct link with info for where/when those shuttles are picking people up?

      • you have to sign up (first register, for the hurricane projects you don’t have to do the orientation), they post the projects as they come up and they seem to fill up pretty fast (at least last couple of days)

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