Greetings from ground zero. We wanted to share some of the progress Waves For Water has made over the past few days here in the wake of Super Storm Sandy.
Since launching our initiative to help with the ongoing relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, I’ve had a vision for our efforts here and we plan to focus even more as days and weeks go by.
I believe that W4W can serve as a vehicle for the surf industry to rally behind and channel its support through offering a strong and relentless mission targeting specifically the surf/beach communities that lost everything.
My hope is that we—as a collective—will all look back in a few years and know that we came together for the greater good, and that we made a real measurable impact in the recovery.
I see the long term strategy for this recovery effort needs to be a three-stage roll-out plan.
1st stage: Most likely, 1-2 months. First Response: Essential supplies to sustain people until infrastructure is restored. Emergency supply decisions are based on the intel we get from all the assessments we’re doing in each problem area. For people who have had flooding damage, it’s cleaning and demolition supplies (shovels, sledgehammers, masks, contractor bags, gloves, shop-vac’s, bleach, brooms, mops, etc).
Then stuff to keep people warm, since the power is still out—blankets & jackets, etc. and finally other basic essentials—batteries, flashlights, baby supplies, toiletries, etc. Basically, it’s all the things we need in life and none of the things we don’t.
2nd stage: 3-6 months. Rubble removal. There is so much debris and damaged property that needs to be cleared away. We need to band together to move it out as quickly and efficiently as possible—NOW.
If that means renting a fleet of trucks and getting a ton of volunteers to load them up, then so be it.
No matter what, the faster we can clear the areas where homes used to be the sooner new ones can go up. Seeing rubble disappear is a big psychological boost—creating a clean slate from which to start anew.
Can’t over emphasize the importance to action now. The people are here ready to work, to make a difference.
3rd stage: 6-12 months: Rebuild. This is where we will focus our resources and put efforts into helping a local surfing family who has served as a pillar of their community for generations, rebuild their surf shop or home. We want to make sure that the surfing heritage in these areas is restored and rebuilt, so these amazing people will continue to be a source of inspiration for years to come.
So that’s a quick snapshot of the long-term roll-out plan. I fully commit W4W to this and will see it through personally until we see surf shops and beach towns along this coast again.
Lastly, I would like to share some updates from our first few days on the front lines.
We spent the better part of day one assessing the Jersey Shore barrier Islands and helping local legend Sam Hammer and his family board up their restaurant in Seaside, New Jersey mainly to keep looters out and to prepare for the next storm.
No families remain on the island, as most of it is ruined—and the few families left will be evacuated shortly. The authorities are saying no one will be allowed back for 8 months minimum. It has been surreal to witness everyday the infamous Jersey Shore boardwalk and Casino Pier, mangled beyond recognition. I can’t imagine what it was like for Sam to look at his home-break and see a roller coaster sitting in the line-up where he normally catches his waves.
On the very first day, we were able to get an initial feel for what the scale of damage actually is and what the specific steps to recovery will be need to be. And it just felt damn good to help a fellow comrade in need. It’s just basic human compassion for one another and a deep sense of the greater good of all living beings. It’s in our DNA, and sometimes it takes adversity to remind us of this. It was a good day and the Hammer family will no doubt persevere.
On day two we went to Staten Island with a bunch of supplies that were specific to the needs of that area. We saw great devastation there, too. But also we found many people mobilized and volunteering, doing their part.
There was such an unexpected, organized, feel to it so when we rocked up to a product distribution drop site we saw all the goods being separated into categories, and teams of volunteers taking items into neighborhoods, going door to door. It was awesome! Because of research done days prior, we were able to be very targeted with the items we supplied and, of course, the distribution hub leaders were over-the-moon when they received us and our supplies.
Again, the whole experience was incredible for later strike missions we have planned. That’s what this whole operation has been about—thinking very streamlined—making smart and calculated decisions every step of the way.
The second half of the day was spent at a warehouse that local, Pete Despirito, gave us to receive, store, and distribute donations from.
What champs he and his team are! Less than 24 hours after securing the space with him we had three truckloads of donated goods coming in from surrounding regions. One crew from Pennsylvania, one from Connecticut, and one from NY. He then had a crew of 15 volunteers sorting through all the goods and putting them into categories; that next would be boxed and palletized.
We basically have an organized stockpile of aid supplies ready to be distributed to those in need. And with all the intel that comes in each day from our networks up and down the coast we can now appropriate the supplies according to each of their specific needs.
It’s a model that we’re incredibly proud of, and will replicate with our warehouse spaces in Long Island and other grass roots satellite hubs in some of the smaller regions that were hit, such as the towns in Southern Jersey.
Big props to Pete and his crew for all the hard work they are doing day & night at the warehouse. And another shout-out to Nick Bricker in South Jersey, who has stepped up big time and mobilized his community—setting up product distros, organizing fundraisers, and gathering intel for us.
Gotta mention Sam Hammer again. Providing us much needed shelter every night and being very instrumental in organizing our daily efforts.
And also: DJ Struntz for capturing so many of the moments we’ve had together with his camera.
Lastly, to all the people who have been writing in, spreading the word, and donating time and resources. THANK YOU! We will keep you looped into our efforts daily.
No doubt, it’s a long road ahead, but one foot in front of the other, we will get there….
Tired and content…signing off…for now. Learn more at the Waves For Water website.
—by Jon Rose