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Occupy Wall Street preoccupied with Sandy relief

The Brooklyn Paper

Occupy Wall Street is now occupied with helping Hurricane Sandy victims.

The demonstrators who rallied in Zuccotti Park have taken to the streets to assist Brooklynites suffering after the catastrophic storm by setting up volunteer hubs in hard-hit Red Hook and Sunset Park where do-gooders can deliver donations, organize food drives, and aid with cleanup.

For a group often criticized as aimless, these activists say they were quick to act.

“When the hurricane started to hit, we mobilized our networks and were already starting to canvass to determine what the needs were,” said Occupy organizer Justin Wedes.

Occupy members say they have dispatched between 8,000 and 10,000 volunteers to 15 outposts across the city — with about half of those do-gooders helping out in Brooklyn.

And their efforts in Red Hook came before more-established aid organizations, such as the Red Cross, have even arrived in the neighborhood.

“We have existing activist and community leaders in the neighborhoods,” said Wedes, who claims that the movement’s grassroots nature and lack of bureaucracy allow Occupy to move faster than other relief groups. “We didn’t come from the outside. This is Occupy emerging from within these communities.”

Red Cross spokesman Chris Osborne said his organization is still working to get its bearings in the city.

“This is widespread and there are all kinds of pockets of communities that we are still learning about and still trying to serve,” said Osborne. “We ask for patience.”

Red Hook residents are ecstatic that the protest movement has transformed into a relief effort.

“It’s the meet-and-greet you hope to never have to have, but when you do, it’s great to know that your neighbors are looking out for you,” said Blee George, who has been getting hot meals and supplies daily with her four-month-old daughter at the Red Hook Initiative — where many Occupiers lend their support.

The Red Hook Initiative, which is usually a youth community center with an after-school program, emerged as a de facto hub for neighborhood volunteerism because Hurricane Sandy spared the building during the storm.

“We are right across the street from Red Hook Houses and we had no water damage,” said Red Hook Initiative operations coordinator Sandy Brockwell. “It was a place for people to come in and get out of the cold, and then people started showing up and volunteering.”

Since Tuesday, the community center has organized hundreds of do-gooders, including many Occupy folks, who are tasked with cooking or delivering hot meals, bringing batteries and other non-perishables to neighbors without power, and helping residents clean up water-logged homes.

Hurricane relief seems like a far jump from protesting the big banks, but Ronny Nunez — one of the leaders behind the Occupy branch operating out of St. Jacobi Church in Sunset Park — says the departure needed to happen.

“We had to set up an ad hoc operation,” he said. “Places were devastated and weren’t getting any help.”

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Vas from East Village says:
After Sandy
https://vimeo.com/52597318
Nov. 4, 2012, 1:01 pm
Jeep from Fidi says:
Would have been even better if some of them had also helped those of us living in fidi ... Still without power, water, sanitation...
Nov. 4, 2012, 4:40 pm
Tony from P. Slope says:
Occupy Sandy had a food/supply drive at Key Food inPark Slope on Saturday and collected about $2,000 in goods. We delivered them to the devastated peopl of Red Hook.

@Jeep - Save you obnoxious comments. Naturally people like you would think it was better if YOU were helped instead of other people. No doubt, you were one of the scum that undermined this movement. When you get electric back, you'll see that people not able to afford those over-priced "luxury" apartments in Manhattan, were harder hit than yo. If you want water or sanitation, call you f*cking doorman, you self-important piece of crap.
Nov. 4, 2012, 7:37 pm
JAY from NYC says:
Tony, while I think its great that people are working to help out others, and its really needed rights now, NO ONE undermined the "Occupy Movement" except the clowns that were involved in it.
Occupy wants to trot out Tom Morello, who supported Sendero Luminoso, (who are designated by the U.S., Canada and the E.U. as a terrorist organization) the most brutal terror group in the western hemisphere, who are responsible for the war in Peru which killed 80,000, and among other things uses children as "soldiers". I am supposed to take Occupy seriously, when you have people like that??
Occupy camps out in a park for what, a million years, and come up with nothing, not even a candidate to run? What is that all about?
NO ONE did Occupy in, but themselves. You sound like Fox news blaming liberal media for Michelle Bachman being a complete crack pot.
Nov. 5, 2012, 11:21 am
John from Bay Ridge says:
I'm no fan of OWS, for very good reasons, but give them credit for doing something very useful and helpful for people who are in real need. Catholic Charities is providing food, clothing and supplies in the Rockaways. Red Cross seems AWOL in the Rockaways and very slow moving in general in the city (just like in the aftermath of 9/11; they are good at raising money though).
Nov. 5, 2012, 3:06 pm
John from Red Hook says:
I was in the Red Hook Initiative building when "Occupy Wall Street" volunteers flatly rejected the NYPD's help to transport/escort medical personnel into the blacked out Red Hook Houses after being asked to do so by the medical personnel. They effectively dismissed them out of hand because of politics. It was not a good encouter and the Police Officers simply left with nary a word proving they are professional and above such things during a crisis. Thank you anyway NYPD!
Nov. 6, 2012, 7:35 am

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