Graduate Students Join Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts
In late October 2012, Hurricane Sandy ravaged the east coast, bringing severe damage to several states. New York was hit especially hard. The hurricane created billions of dollars in damage, destroyed thousands of homes, and caused 72 deaths, 48 of which were New York inhabitants. The outpouring of support immediately following Sandy was impressive. The dedication some groups have shown, remaining in the effected area for months and dedicating themselves to those hit hardest, is moving.
Occupy Sandy is one of these groups. Occupy Sandy was organized as a relief effort by members of Occupy Wall Street to help the victims of the hurricane. The group has broken into teams, which cover different effected areas.
On March 14, four Dartmouth graduate students, Daniel Jantos, Ron Bucca, and Zach Williams, all students in the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program, and Amanda Balboni, a student in the Program in Experimental and Molecular Medicine, traveled down to Staten Island to volunteer with the Yellow Team of Occupy Sandy and provide relief to the hurricane victims.
Over St. Patrick’s Day weekend, the group helped rebuild a home that had been destroyed by the hurricane. The family that lived in the home consisted of a mother, father, two children, and a baby boy, born just a few months after the hurricane hit. The family had recently re-finished their basement to make room for their new addition. The water level had reached three feet on the first floor, completely submerging the basement and destroying almost all of the family’s appliances and possessions. The graduate students worked throughout the weekend to re-insulate the house and put up sheetrock, so that the family could soon move into their home and out of the apartment they are paying for in addition to their mortgage payments. The father worked with the team of graduate students, and remarked that he is thankful for the health and safety of his family, and for his brother’s family, who lives down the street from him and whose home was also destroyed by the storm. This man had neighbors who had lost their lives in the hurricane and was grateful to have only lost his possessions. Numerous volunteers have come from all over the country to team up with Occupy Sandy and provide much needed relief to these families.
Unfortunately, there is still much damage to be repaired from the hurricane. The recovery effort is just getting started. If you would like to volunteer in areas that were affected by Sandy, or would like to donate money, please visit the Occupy Sandy site.
by Amanda Balboni
photos by Zach Williams