Occupy Sandy: Movement Finds New Cause in Storm Relief

Young volunteers fan out in New York City after superstorm

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Nov 10, 2012 10:52 AM CST

(Newser) – You might be surprised at what has become a lauded and effective relief organization for victims of Superstorm Sandy: Occupy Wall Street. The social media savvy that helped Occupy protesters create a grass-roots global movement last year—one that ultimately collapsed under its leaderless format—is proving to be a strength as members fan out across New York to deliver aid including hot meals, medicine, and blankets. The group has dozens of relief centers across the city and a stream of volunteers who are shuttled out to the most desperate areas. It is partnering with local community and volunteer organizations.

The relief effort started at St. Jacobi Church in Brooklyn the day after the storm, where Occupiers set up a base of operations and used social media like Twitter and Facebook to spread the word. There is a sense of camaraderie reminiscent of Zuccotti Park, as young people with scruffy beards and walkie-talkies plan the day's activities. Donations come in by the truckload and are sorted in the basement, which looks like a clearinghouse for every household product imaginable, from canned soup and dog food to duvet covers. "You see a need and you fulfill it," says Occupier Diego Ibanez, 24. "There's not a boss to tell you that you can't do this or you can't do that. Zuccotti was one of the best trainings in how to mobilize so quickly."

Benny Roman, volunteer and 30-year resident of Rockaway Park in Queens, warms up as he eats soup at an outreach center with members of Occupy Sandy.
Benny Roman, volunteer and 30-year resident of Rockaway Park in Queens, warms up as he eats soup at an outreach center with members of Occupy Sandy.   (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
Nastaran Mohit of Occupy Sandy, right, speaks during a coordination meeting in the Rockaway Park neighborhood.
Nastaran Mohit of Occupy Sandy, right, speaks during a coordination meeting in the Rockaway Park neighborhood.   (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
Diego Ibanez listens to another volunteer at an outreach center in the Rockaway Park neighborhood of Queens.
Diego Ibanez listens to another volunteer at an outreach center in the Rockaway Park neighborhood of Queens.   (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
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