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Thursday, October 30 2014 @ 10:54 AM CDT

From Scarcity to Abundance

Occupy Wall Street

It was Tuesday afternoon. The hurricane had swirled offshore, but the floods had yet to recede. Red Hook was seeping from the cellars of its rowhouses, dripping from the tips of every awning, blacked out all the way to the 20th floor of its NYCHA housing projects. FEMA was nowhere to been seen. The Red Cross was nowhere to be seen. The National Guard was nowhere to be seen. Those massive bureaucracies were processing the paperwork, reviewing protocols, checking boxes and getting everything in place.

From Scarcity to Abundance

Rebecca Manski
Occupy Wall Street

It was Tuesday afternoon. The hurricane had swirled offshore, but the floods had yet to recede. Red Hook was seeping from the cellars of its rowhouses, dripping from the tips of every awning, blacked out all the way to the 20th floor of its NYCHA housing projects. FEMA was nowhere to been seen. The Red Cross was nowhere to be seen. The National Guard was nowhere to be seen. Those massive bureaucracies were processing the paperwork, reviewing protocols, checking boxes and getting everything in place.

The elderly were trapped at the top of dark elevatorless buildings. The sick were wondering how they would chill their insulin, check their pacemakers, refill their prescriptions. Fathers and mothers worried about letting their children walk down pitch black stairwells. There was no way to get food, really.

It began with a call from a single worker at the Red Hook Initiative, to a single Occupy Wall Street participant. Let's get off the internet and out of the office, they agreed; let's go out into the community, and see what's up. Michael Premo came down to meet his friend Sheryl Nash-Chisholm. Then he drove to the Rockaways. At the end of the day he reported back via networks established by Occupy Wall Street throughout this year; he started by informing the OWS outgrowth, Interoccupy, of the needs and possibilities he had seen in Red Hook and the Rockaways that day. Interoccupy had started working with recovers.org and 350.org to establish online platforms for matching volunteers and resources with the needs of people on the ground. But the first relief site in the city emerged of this Occupy Sandy-Red Hook Initiative collaboration.

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