I know this blog is supposed to be about PEI. Please bear with me for a week or so. After leaving Staten Island I felt the need to share my experience with others so we do not forget there are still hundreds of people in need in New York and New Jersey.
After our first day in the Occupy Sandy camp, we started to learn the routine. The younger people running he camp like to stay up late at night to unwind. Cindy and I unwind (or crash) shortly after sundown. They work hard, sometimes late into the night so we took on the task of morning kitchen duty:
- Prepare an urn of coffee and walk it over to the generator
- boil water on propane stove for dishes
- gather all serving utensils from yesterday and soak in bleach bucket while waiting for hot water
- replace 30 or so sternos and relight the warming trays
- top up water in warming trays
- start dishes
- pour coffee into large thermos jug and start another pot
- boil water for second jug to make tea or hot chocolate
- examine the food trays that came in last night to prepare lunch menu
- scavenge through the canned goods to top up what prepared food we have received
- this could be peas, beans, corn, stew, soup, rice or gravy
- greet the early risers and workers, offering them coffee, tea, hot or cold cereal
- we will have hot food to serve by 10 am
- now it is time to check the sternos and replace as needed to make sure food stays warm
By this time the place is buzzing. We have gas, electric sanitation, and other workers passing by. The residents are coming in to work on their devastated homes, we see police cruisers everywhere and we wave kindly as they pass by to make sure all are safe.
The younger volunteers are often off in small groups helping “demolish” a home – This means throwing everything out, ripping out carpets and exposing walls to dry. We make sure crews heading out have gloves and masks and pass them whatever tools we have available.
We spend the rest of the day where we are needed most. We became known as the organizers. With the help of the regulars and passer-by volunteers we tried to keep everything handy and available. One day we organized to food supplies. Another day we organized the supply tent. Another say, it was the baby tent. Other people volunteered to organize the 20 to 30 cubic feet of clothes that had been donated.
One good thing about organizing, we were in tune with the location of most supplies. We also knew which supplies were running short. When volunteers arrived with donations and asked what we needed, we were ready: we always need paper towels, bathroom tissue, bleach wipes, scouring powder. brooms and mops. today we are also running short of . . . .
Somewhere in all this we find time to eat. The people in charge watch over us and ORDER us to take a break and eat something.
We also find time to chat with the residents. We remember a few from Sunday when we canvassed half the streets int he neighbourhood. We exchange a smile and ask how they are doing today. It is heartwarming to see they are making progress: electric hooked up today. Gas is coming in tomorrow so I can get some heat. Another says I took a hot bath last night – the first in 3 weeks. We ask those with pets if they have dog food – yes back to the list we are always running out of cat food.