A writer joins her friend Ben Heemskerk, the owner of the Brooklyn bar The Castello Plan, as he organizes a group of community volunteers to help in the hardest hit areas post-Sandy:

On Monday the same thing started all over again. Our numbers were smaller, people were returning to work, and we’d lost our escorts, but our group now included an Army captain who had just returned from Afghanistan. By noon we’d been dispatched to a church parking lot on Beach 67th Street in Rockaway Beach.

The parking lot was empty when we arrived except for one National Grid truck; National Grid is the contract operator that works with the Long Island Power Authority, whose power lines run onto the Rockaway Peninsula. Rockaway is the one part of New York City not served by Con Edison. The National Grid truck had set up a table where people could charge their phones.

It was difficult not to conclude based on our surroundings that the neighborhood had not been served at all. Within five minutes of us setting up our goods in the empty lot, and without any real outreach needed, crowds began to appear—batteries, flashlights, disinfectants, diapers and blankets were getting snatched up quickly. It’s at this point the need began to feel overwhelming, and the frightening suspicion that help, official help in the form of city officials or large established disaster-relief organizations, was not going to arrive, started to sneak up on us.

“After Sandy, A Great and Complex City Reveals Traumas New and Old.” — Glynnis MacNicol, Capital New York

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