Red Hook was one of the Brooklyn neighborhoods hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy, and many Occupy activists and other volunteers have been mobilizing relief efforts to help residents there. One volunteer, Chloe Cockburn, spoke with us about working with the Occupy Sandy and the Red Hook Initiative last week, where she helped out residents who have been without power, water or means of transportation since the hurricane's onset.
"The scene was fairly chaotic though we all managed to get our jobs done in the midst of dozens of incoming volunteers, a constant stream of donations bags, many people from the community moving about the facility through tight hallways and narrow spaces between work tables and walls," Cockburn said. Volunteers distributed lifesaving materials like batteries, baby food, toilet paper, water and medical supplies to Red Hook residents, many of whom live in public housing, and put together assessment forms to figure out what other supplies were needed in the neighborhood. They also supplied homebound residents with things they'd specifically requested, and delivered hot food.
Cockburn said that like many people in public housing without power, Red Hook residents were frustrated with city agencies and utilities, and found things very difficult. "People are very stressed, frustrated, and scared to be living in the dark," she said. "There are robberies happening at night. People can't see in the stairwell. They are afraid to leave their homes but they have no supplies. There are diabetics who need to refrigerate their medicine. There are elderly people who can't walk down stairs. There are mothers with small children who can't get diapers - all the stores are closed. People can't shower or cook or wash anything."
She noted that FEMA arrived after she left on Thursday and distributed military food packets, and Housing Authority workers were trying to pump water out of building basements before electricity could be restored. Cockburn said that RHI will also be coordinating efforts with local Trinity Grace Church, and that supplies will be distributed to other areas in desperate need, like Coney Island and the Rockaways; if you're looking to help out, check RHI's website.for information about volunteering.