Hurricane Sandy Aftermath — Coat Drive

Post by blogger | November 13, 2012      

Last month I left for a brief trip back east. It was supposed to be brief. I planned to visit family, attend a friend’s wedding, head up to Vermont to see some college buddies, and watch my girlfriend break three hours in the New York City IMG Marathon. All things that I thought were going to be easy given the amount of time I had.

A lone firefighter statue in front of a charred house in the Rockaways.

A lone statue in front of a charred house in the Rockaways.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think a single storm would alter my plans, ruin friend’s lives, and change the place of some of my fondest childhood memories forever.

October 29th till just this past Saturday, my family was without power. 13 days seemed like eternity but thankfully we had hot water and there wasn’t a tree through our house, a boat washed up on our front lawn, a backed up toilet bowl, or seven feet of raw sewage in our home. We were lucky, very, very lucky. Other friends and family were not.

The two day, monster storm claimed at least 41 lives and caused billions of dollars in damage in New York state. One of the hardest hit areas was the Rockaways in Queens, a beachfront community where almost half of the houses burned in a fire after the storm. My father, Queens County Bar Association President Joseph Risi, setup a pro-Bono law service outpost to help families with insurance claims, landlord-tenant issues, home repair contracts and consumer protection issues. I went with him. The stench of open sewage and smoldering debris was overwhelming.

Many WildSnow readers feel like extended family to me. We can join together as backcountry skiers, recreationalists, outdoor enthusiasts, gear obsessed (sometimes), and the fortunate, to help victims of Hurricane Sandy on their road to recovery.


Thousands of people have lost everything. As temperatures dipped into the upper 20’s last week and almost a foot of snow fell, many huddled in front of 55 gallon drums burning trash from their homes to stay warm. These were not the images news stations were airing.

Clothing donations are coming in, but a lot of it is summer clothes. Coats, jackets, thermals, and warm hats is what they need.

If you’ve just bought a sweet new Marmot NeoShell jacket or the latest Arc’teryx jacket, I urge you to consider donating your old jacket to a program like the New York Cares program.

You can ship your jacket, thermals, or hats to New York Cares. I’ve checked them out and they’re a legit charity that’ll get your donations to those in need as quickly as possible:

ATTN: The New York Cares Coat Drive
157 West 31st Street, Basement 2
New York, NY 10001

If your company would like to send jackets or other winter centric items to NY Cares please contact Lia Papazoglou at

If you cannot send anything, consider making a financial contribution to NY Cares. Visit NY Cares Coat Drive Financial Support

Many people still need a significant amount of help rebuilding but a basic need to keep warm should not be one of their worries.

The images below are from a few trips to the Rockaways in Queens and Long Beach over the last two weeks. Block after block of destruction was everywhere. Many residents have fled and most homes won’t have power for months.

A close friend lives on this block in Long Beach, New York. All the houses have been entirely gutted and the trash seen here was bulldozed  street by street.

A close friend lives on this block in Long Beach, New York. All the houses have been entirely gutted and the trash seen here was bulldozed by heavy equipment going street to street.

Whole blocks totally incinerated were every where we looked. Not one news station even mentioned the destruction here

Everywhere we looked, entire blocks were totally incinerated. Not one news station even mentioned the destruction here.

Piles of sand, house remains, and soaked belonings waiting to be carted away. Makeshift dumps were created in every beach parking lot with refuse piling 25 feet high.

Piles of sand, house remnants, and soaked belongings waiting to be carted away. Every beach parking lot turned into a makeshift dump with refuse piles 25 feet high.

Yachts became lawn orniments and washed up cars were seen scattered on every street.

Yachts became lawn ornaments and washed up, burned out cars are scattered on every street.

Relief stations popped up in church parking lots with free hot food, mobile cell towers, cell charging stations, legal advice, free massages, FEMA representatives, day care, and members of the mental health field.

Relief stations popped up in church parking lots with free hot food, mobile cell towers, cell charging stations, legal advice, free massages, FEMA representatives, day care, and mental health counseling.

Help poured in from all members of the military; Marines, Navy, Coast Gaurd, Army, and National Guard. Electrical crews from every state either convoyed to effected communities or were flown in on C-130s they all continue to work non-stop to get communities connected back to the power grid.

Help poured in from all members of the military: Marines, Navy, Coast Guard, Army, and National Guard. Electrical crews from every state either convoyed to affected communities or were flown in on C-130s. They continue to work non-stop to get communities connected back to the power grid.

Please consider making a donation to help those less fortunate in a time of need.



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9 Responses to “Hurricane Sandy Aftermath — Coat Drive”

  1. john nobil November 13th, 2012 11:37 am

    Thanks for the reality check. old (but good) fleece jackets are on the way! and everyone should re-post this on their facebook, etc. The stories from New York should have everyone around the country re-evaluating and revamping their emergency plans. Besides a backup cell phone/laptop battery, seems like everyone should have several wilderness style carry-out bags for their non functioning toilet (just-in-case the water stops flowing). don’t hear this suggestion very often

  2. Lisa Dawson November 13th, 2012 1:52 pm

    Thanks for shipping your jackets – I’m sure the folks in NY will appreciate them greatly. Good point about the toilet bags!

  3. Sue November 13th, 2012 1:54 pm

    Thank you for sharing your sobering first hand report. It’s a good call to action and good to know how we can help. I’ll be sending some jackets too.

  4. Kaye November 13th, 2012 2:57 pm

    Thanks for info on how to help!!!

  5. Joe November 13th, 2012 5:33 pm

    John & Sue much thanks!

    @john the biggest difficulty was honestly gasoline. Members of my family had to wait up to 4 hours in some instances. Putting aside 10 gallons with a fuel stabilizer is on the list from now on.

    The two weakest points in NY are the power grid and gasoline distribution. Both of which failed.

    Heck even when 9/11 happened the stock market kept ticking, this was the first time since 1888 that Wall Street was forced to keep its doors closed.

    Makes you realize how fragile our nationwide systems are if we are engaged in a state of war or another act of terrorism happens here on our own turf.

    Make sure to get your local ski shops involved as well!

  6. Gordon November 15th, 2012 8:35 am

    Thanks for the detailed info Joe. Unloaded my closet into a box this morning. All items performance certified (by me). It’s up to UPS now….

  7. Lisa Dawson November 15th, 2012 12:21 pm

    Thank you Gordon!

  8. Bryan November 19th, 2012 9:32 am

    A group of firefighters was sent from Montana to help. They returned home 4 days later because the local union would not allow non-union help.

  9. Roxy December 8th, 2012 2:03 am

    These are some of the images that I never thought I’ll see in a powerful country. Nature has its ways to call the attention of people and obviously, no state is too powerful to control its effects.

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