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When Hurricane Sandy hit near Atlantic City at roughly 8:00 p.m. on Saturday October 29, she created maximum sustained winds of 80 miles per hour, tropical force winds that radiated roughly 500 miles out from her center, and a powerful storm surge that had already caused loads of damage along the coast. In New Jersey, six-foot high waves broke into buildings once every 10 seconds for six hours. In Manhattan, water levels in Battery Park city rose to almost 14 feet, shattering a record set in 1821 by almost three feet. The damage didn’t stop with the wind and the waves. Locations in Maryland received 28 inches of snowfall. Overall, the storm caused more than 130 deaths in the United States and 60 in the Caribbean. It knocked out power to more than 8.5 million homes in 16 states and damaged more than 300 housing units in New York and more than 72,000 buildings in New Jersey. State officials have asked for more than $80 billion in federal aid to help with rebuilding, though the government is still working to pass a bill that would provide help.
In the storm’s aftermath, activity all over the coast took the form of aid. Hipsters in Brooklyn biked out to Rockaway carting water and clothes. A surf club on the peninsula transformed itself into an aid center. Runners, in town for the canceled New York City marathon, ran relief supplies to residents hit hard by the storm in Staten Island. The Brooklyn Boulders climbing gym turned into an operations base for Team Rubicon USA, a volunteer group of former active military personnel who deployed at a moment's notice to help with search and rescue and the recovery. A slew of outdoor gear companies gave away loads of apparel to survivors weathering the aftermath in New York City and New Jersey. Surfer Jon Rose gathered his friends and directed the efforts of his non-profit, Waves for Water, delivering basic necessities to victims up and down the coast. Doctors Without Borders set up their first ground operation on U.S. soil in Rockaway and went to work. During the storm, a 23-year-old surfer named Dylan Smith ferried residents of Belle Harbor in the Rockaways over flooded waters on his surfboard. On Christmas Eve, the Associated Press reported that he died while surfing in Puerto Rico, bringing more heartbreak to the area.
The volunteering efforts have continued for the last two months, and likely won’t end anytime soon. It’s just something to consider, in case you’re looking for a different sort of adventure in 2013.