Hurricane Sandy hit New York and the East Coast hard, and OC friends and family are getting their hands dirty to help those affected. Meet the individuals who are making the recovery happen, all wearing the T-shirt
we created to benefit the Ali Forney Center
for homeless LGBT youth, which suffered devastating damage from the storm. Next up is the musician, visual artist, and photographer Hisham Akira Bharoocha pictured here with his wife Kate Thompson, a psychiatric social worker at Beth Israel Hospital.
Hisham Akira Bharoocha
Musician (Soft Circle, Boredoms, IIII, 41 Strings), Visual Artist, Photographer
How are you involved in Hurricane Sandy relief?
I've been out to Brighton Beach and The Rockaways to do everything from canvasing, to getting elderly people in high-rises without power the supplies they need, to demolishing houses that are rotting from water damage, to handing out supplies.
What about this experience has been moving to you?
Seeing all the people of New York City come together and help those in need has been truly inspiring. No one is judging anyone, everyone has one goal––to help out in any way possible.
Out on Brighton Beach, Russian immigrants worked side by side with volunteers who didn't speak Russian. I worked with an Irish immigrant demolishing a house in The Rockaways, and we just worked in silence for the most part, tearing out rotting drywall, carpet, and lost belongings. I also helped clean out a boxing gym run by a community center out in The Rockaways, and it was great to see the artists and the people who run it working side by side. You don't get to see these people working together often, and it's amazing. Pure humanitarian action is such a beautiful thing.
Many grassroots organizations have been doing a lot of amazing work, like Renegade Sandy Relief (aka RSR), Veggie Island, Rockaway Surf Club, and Occupy Sandy, all of which I have been able to work with. Local volunteers have talked to me about spreading the word––everyone out there feels like the government has left them to fend for themselves, and the only people helping are volunteers from DIY organizations or churches.
Independently of Hurricane Sandy efforts, what other causes do you support, and how actively?
I'm about to start donating artwork to organizations that will help raise money to do work in the heavily damaged areas. I went out to San Francisco to give a short lecture on volunteering for an event hosted by Pop-Up Magazine
last weekend. The rest of the country is out of touch and cannot tell how bad the damage is out here. Many people thanked me for spreading the word as they admitted to feeling disconnected from what is going on.
What can others do to help post-Sandy efforts?
Here is a list of links and supply drop-off locations for people who want to help.
96th St. and Rockaway Beach Blvd, Breezy Point - Charged power tools, trash bags, hand tools, food, clothing, water, batteries, gear for toxicity
St Gertrude's Church, Beach 38th St. and Rockaway Beach Blvd, Rockaway - Batteries, flashlights, cleaning supplies, blankets, toiletries, etc.
38th St. and Beach Channel Drive, Rockaway - Need everything
St. Francis Church, 129th St. and Rockaway Beach Blvd, Rockaway - Firewood and Duraflame logs, charged power tools, trash bags, hand tools, prepared food, water, batteries, generators, pumps. No clothes please.
Firehouse across from the train station at 59th St., Rockaway - No clothes please
Rockaway Store Front Community Center, B113 and Rockaway Beach Blvd, Rockaway
Veggie Island / R. Taco, 96th Street and Rockaway Blvd, Rockaway - Flashlights, batteries, diapers, food, water. Please consider helping if you can.
Here are some great websites that tell you what you can do:
Get information on Facebook:
Shop the OC Surviving Sandy T-Shirt here
Hisham Akira Bharoocha