My Week with Sandy: A Hurricane Grows in Brooklyn

Just over a year ago my very first blog post was of Hurricane Irene. She was all bark & no bite, so when Hurricane Sandy came a calling the general buzz was that it’d be about the same. Unfortunately, that was not so.


Here in my neighborhood, riding out the hurricane was fun. We padded back & forth to the apartments in our building we’re friends with, watching movies, reading magazines, eating pumpkin soup & making s’mores. In a city that’s always bustling we’d never had that many hours to just sit & hang out together.

Our internet & phone were down all week, which for someone who works from home, was maddening. SquareSpace -- my webite host -- had their building flooded, which is why the blog was dark all week. Venturing into the neighborhood in search of internet, it was like everyone took a sick day all at once. Coffee shops were taking reservations for a table time. Today as I write this I’m at a coffee shop that still has no internet so I can’t post this until I find a signal later on.

Many of my friends work jobs where they only get paid when they see clients & customers: a hair stylist, children’s speech pathologist, tour guide, waitress, salesman. We were completely & errily cut off from Manhattan when all the subways from Brooklyn flooded. Therefore even for those whose workplaces opened later in the week, it took them three hours to get there, waiting in lines a mile long to get on buses to drive over the bridge. 

However, I’m well aware that we’re blessed. We’d sit around the living room passing around our iPhones with new photos we’d found on Twitter or Instagram. Cars floated on flooded streets. A building in Chelsea had the entire front fly off, leaving it looking like a doll-house. The carousel I did this photo shoot on in Dumbo looked like an island.


Source: Flooding / Chelsea / Carousel

The lower half of Manhattan was without power, heat, hot water, for nearly a week including people like Chelsea Clinton & Alec Baldwin. Nearby Red Hook, Brooklyn where low income families didn’t have the money to prepare with enough flashlights & canned food, lined up in droves once we were able to mobilize efforts to get them supplies. In Breezy Point, Queens an electric shortage led to a fire that took out hundreds of homes. In Rockaway, Brooklyn, the ocean took out rows & rows & rows of homes & in some cases the people who had not evacuated them. A fellow blogger was in Staten Island yesterday & told there are 100 bodies in a high school gymnasium that haven’t been officially added to the death toll yet because poliece have yet to identify the bodies.

When 9/11 happened, I had never been to New York. So my heart has never hurt for this city, now my city, as it does now. But I have also never been more proud of my fellow New Yorkers.


I’ll share more about those efforts in a post on Wednesday. But for now I wanted to let those of you who’ve asked know how you can help.


My church, Trinity Grace, has set up a Hurricane Relief Fund. Regardless of your religious affiliations, the staff at TGC is already paid, so 100% of these donations go directly to relief. You do have to create a log-in for yourself, but won't be signed up for a mailing list or anything. So far we've met the needs in Red Hook, are still at work in the highly damanged East Village, moving on to Rockaway & Coney Island & will continue working with the funds we donate together.


We just finished our massive push in Red Hook & today our team is meeting to discuss where we can help best next. When we get specific needs I will share them on Twitter @HilaryRushford & my friend Sarah will share them via @TGCBrooklyn.

In the meantime, you can send supplies to a neighboring church we're partnering with:

St Jacobi's Church
5405 4th Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11220


In addition to following on Twitter @HilaryRushford & @TGCBrooklyn, our church also has a Facebook page where updates are shared in more than 140 characters.

Thank you for your love, thoughts & prayers for New York City. I could never love any place more, & you’re welcome to come visit us any time. Even in times of trouble, we’ll welcome you in & offer you a glass of wine to ride out the storms of life with us. Until then, thank you for your generosity & sending funds & supplies & helping me to help my neighbors rebuild their lives, homes & businesses. 

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