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Occupy Sandy: A New Model for Disaster Response?

One of the odd twists of the Sandy aftermath is the repurposing of the Occupy Wall Street apparatus as one of the most effective aid groups operating in New York. Could their work serve as a model for locally-based disaster recovery?
November 12, 2012, 2pm PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Michael Fleshman

Alan Feuer reports on Occupy Sandy's efforts to help those in need of assistance following the Superstorm of two weeks ago. The organization has used the tools of social media and organization developed during the Occupy Wall Street movement to create an ad hoc, but effective relief group that, at times, has outperformed the "official" response from public agencies and non-profits like the Red Cross. 

"Maligned for months for its purported ineffectiveness, Occupy Wall Street has managed through its storm-related efforts not only to renew the impromptu passions of Zuccotti, but also to tap into an unfulfilled desire among the residents of the city to assist in the recovery," says Feuer. "This altruistic urge was initially unmet by larger, more established charity groups, which seemed slow to deliver aid and turned away potential volunteers in droves during the early days of the disaster."

"In the past two weeks, Occupy Sandy has set up distribution sites at a pair of Brooklyn churches where hundreds of New Yorkers muster daily to cook hot meals for the afflicted and to sort through a medieval marketplace of donated blankets, clothes and food. There is an Occupy motor pool of borrowed cars and pickup trucks that ferries volunteers to ravaged areas. An Occupy weatherman sits at his computer and issues regular forecasts. Occupy construction teams and medical committees have been formed."


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Published on Friday, November 9, 2012 in The New York Times
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