In Lower East Side, Cell Phones and Social Media More Helpful than FEMA or Red Cross

In blacked-out Manhattan, recovery is slow, if not entirely absent. To help fill the void left by public agencies, a self-organized recovery effort is trying to help those left behind, with the assistance of technology.
November 2, 2012, 11am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Anya Kamenetz reports on the increasingly desperate situation in New York's high-rise public housing buildings, where residents that couldn't evacuate before the storm had been without power or water since Monday night. At a building on Mahnattan's Lower East Side she joined a group of volunteers who had seen "a notice on a website, got an email, or saw a Tweet that volunteers were needed at 46 Hester Street on the Lower East Side, where a local Asian community organization called CAAAV has become the hub for an almost completely self-organized aid effort."

"On each floor above the fourth we find elderly and sick people who have been unable or afraid to venture out since the start of the storm," says Kamenetz. "'I've fallen down twice--that was enough for me,'" says Estelle Kleinhaus, a white-haired woman on the 12th floor who lives alone. They need food, drinking water, and medication. More able-bodied residents have been filling buckets at a hydrant outside in order to flush toilets."

"The lack of an official, coordinated door-to-door response here in downtown, close to some of the most affluent neighborhoods in the country, is a bit chilling...If you were going to target people most likely to need help when the power and water is out, it would be the elderly residents of high-rise towers like the ones that surround us."

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Published on Friday, November 2, 2012 in Fast Company Co.Exist
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