Thursday, November 01, 2012

Update on Post Sandy Trip

Whew, what a day!  wow...where to begin.

Keep it short and to the point:

  1. After much searching, we have change plans.  We will all be going to Queens and Rockaway.  I could bore you with all the factors that went in to the decision, but the short version is that due to the enormity of the disaster and the fact that some areas are just not safe to go into yet the leaders we feel it is best that we are all together.
  2. We had an overwhelming response to the call for volunnteers  So much so that there is a waiting list and there will be more trips in the coming months. (indeed, it is quite possible that we make this our spring break trip as well.) The final list will be made tomorrow (we are waiting to see on an extra van availability, but it looks like 40 volunteers will be going. 
  3. We are staying on a gym floor at Cathedral Prep Seminary High School in Queens.  The address is  56-25 92nd Street Elmhurst NY 11373.  We will be arriving there about 1:30 AM on Friday. Most of the work will be in Rockaway for this trip.
  4. This is a serious trip.  We will be going into active disaster zones.  All volunteers have to act accordingly.  We cannot be a burden on our hosts or in the areas where we will be working.  Our goal is to be as self-sufficient as possible.  This means carrying in food, water, and supplies to the greatest degree possible.  As a result, this is not going to be fancy.  Breakfasts will likely be cereal, lunch and maybe dinner will probably be sandwiches.  If you can bring snack foods (granola bars etc) I think you will be glad you did. (of course this may change but better prepare for the worst and be pleasantly surprised than the other way around!)
  5. We have been in contact with various people on the ground (including Ryan a SBU senior who lost his house in Rockaway) and there is a wide array of work ahead of us: gutting, clean up, and tree cutting.   This makes planning and travel more difficult as we will have to take a large number of tools (pumps, saws, gutting equipment, and even generators and power strips).  
  6.  Departures:  Approx 7pm on Thursday and 4:30 PM on Friday.   Travel together whenever possible.  It is not a race.  We get there and back safely is the most important thing.  
  7. Travel in and around NYC is always bad and made worse by the lack of subways, trains, many roads, and even traffic lights.  So, to the degree possible, we are not going to travel main routes at peak times.  Also the area is reporting gas shortages.  So we will fill-up over 100 miles out of NYC.  This SHOULD give us enough gas to get in and out of the disaster region without using their very limited supply.
  8. There is a mandatory meeting at 6 PM on Thursday for all who are going.  It will be quite short.  It will be in Murphy (I hope).  By then everyone should have paid and signed the form (yes even if you did it before, do it again!) No exceptions. 
  9. When working we must all wear BonaResponds shirts (free to all who pay the $20 to go for gas etc) Or sweatshirts (they cost $30).  They will be a good means of instant recognition and since there are not yet badges for volunteers (that may change by Saturday), the BonaResponds shirt will serve as a means of letting police and others know we are helping.
  10. Dress for dirty conditions and dress for the cold.  Flood cleanup is wet.  Plan accordingly.
  11. You must wear boots.  This is for your own safety.  Given many of you have not been wearing boots, past experience suggests wearing two pairs of socks for the first few days really cuts down on blisters.
  12. We will be sleeping on a gym floor in sleeping bags.  If you do not have access to a sleeping bag, there are a very few available on campus.  In fact, we may not even have room to take any, so plan on sleeping on the floor or bring a small pad.  Space will be at a premium.All of the above may be wrong. Really.  In disasters things change very quickly and that makes planning both necessary and impossible.  So plan on plans changing.  Be flexible, patient, and remember we are going to help. 
  13. A big thank you to all of you who helped today.  There were a few times I was about to go crazy, so thank you all, but especially: Ryan, Tim, Tony, Ray, Frankie, Greg, Brenden, Jen M., Nate, Jen S., Shane, Allie P.,  and Rob. 

If you would like to help but can't go, each trip will cost us about $500 in gas, over $200 in breathing masks, $100 for gloves, $500 in food, and $300 in equipment (yes we have much but it does break with heavy usage).  So we are talking over $1600 for each trip (more for longer ones).   Thus any monetary donation would be a great help!  You can donate by specifying that you select BonaResponds as the recipient at  THANK YOU! 
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