The Crowd and Hurricane Sandy Recovery

A picture my cousin took of Hurricane Sandy landing on Nantucket Island.

As someone who originally hails from New England, I paid particular attention to Hurricane Sandy’s path up the coast last month. I received pictures and updates from my family when they weren’t without power and when they did have internet access, I kept an eye on a Sandy tumblr blog, and was constantly refreshing my google crisis map. It’s fascinating to me what a wealth of data was assembled from such a plethora of places. In this way, we are beginning to see how networks of people are truly helping to construct shared experiences.

That is happening in the recovery as well. In crowdfunding campaigns that support Sandy rebuilding efforts HelpersUnite is waiving all commission fees for those projects that benefit rebuilding and recovery. Of course there are requirements: individuals must create a video detailing their loss (totaling more than $2,500) as well as privately sharing their address and social security.

Indiegogo got in on the action as well, teaming up with the Red Cross so that 100% of nonprofit disaster funds went directly to recovery efforts for individuals launching disaster relief campaigns.

But it’s not just about crowdfunding and paying down what could be a substantial disaster bill (estimated at around $60 Billion). It’s also about the crowd that’s contributing to the real-world efforts as well. Fred Forzione created a Facebook page called “Rebuild Staten Island” that organizes information and volunteer efforts and is fast-tracking nonprofit status. This weekend, for example, they’ve organized an event that they expect more than 500 people to show up for where they will be asking volunteers ot work on three different tasks: rubbish removal & demolition, cleanup, and information gathering.

Forzione’s efforts, however, are just one of many. How else is the crowd contributing in the virtual world and in the real world? How will disaster recovery change as we move forward?

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