It was a truly terrifying Halloween this year, with superstorm Sandy hitting the East Coast. Our New York team at frog was particularly affected, as the studio is located in downtown Manhattan and was closed for five days due to extended power loss. Even more challenging: the personal experiences of our entire team. Most of frog NY was without power at home, too; many had to relocate temporarily to safe places to stay, often with generous friends and family.
Many neighborhoods in the New York City area had to cope with flooding and fallen trees (and, tragically, losses of life). With the entire subway and bus system, bridges, tunnels, and other transportation arteries shut down, it was often impossible and very dangerous to get around. This meant that even very basic services, such as food deliveries, were stalled (and with gas shortages, these and repair services are still delayed in some areas). We thank everyone in our global community for their kind concern, understanding, and support during such a difficult time.
Despite the extreme challenges, frog's creative, let's-improve-the-world spirit has been shining through. Throughout the storm and afterward, we shared reports with each other on the damage of the storm and offered resources to help those in need (which included many of us). New York frogs joined in on the relief effort in a hands-on way, by dropping off food, baby blankets, and diapers to collection efforts for storm victims, and by volunteering to clean up areas throughout the area, from Hoboken, New Jersey, to Red Hook, Brooklyn, to Riverside Park on the Upper West Side.
We shared with each other first-hand accounts of the devastation, which are hard to fathom unless you live in New York. "[Visiting] Red Hook...to be honest, I was shocked. Essentially every business and most first floor apartments have been wiped out," reported one frog. "The Fairway [grocery store] is completely gutted and trashed. All food has been unfortunately thrown out. There are lines 3-4 people deep and stretching around the block for supplies at donation locations."
The New York studio, like many businesses below 39th Street in Manhattan, was crippled with no power for nearly a week. Servers were down and the building was unsafe as there were no lights or working fire sprinklers. During daylight hours, frogs were allowed to enter, cleared or escorted by security guards, and grab their laptops or other work supplies. On November 1, as one frog reported, “If you go, bring a business card for security. They want to know who is going in and they are documenting everything...on a paper towel.” This detail of an impromptu, non-digital building security system illustrates not only how hard it has been to cope without electricity, but also the resilience -- and humor-in-the-face-of hardship -- of New Yorkers.
We're happy to report that the New York studio will be open on November 5.
If you'd like to help New York City and other areas recover from the devastation of superstorm Sandy, here are some resources compiled from various frogs who have shared them internally, which we'd like to share with you. From helping New York City-area workers get back on their feet via tech help or work space, to Red Cross donations that can securely be made around the U.S. and the world, you can be a part of the recovery. With our deepest gratitude, thank you.
In New York:
Around the United States, you can donate $10 to the Red Cross Disaster Relief efforts very easily via text message:
Around the world, donate to Red Cross Disaster Relief efforts online: http://www.redcross.org/charitable-donations
In addition, here’s a list of resources available via Twitter feeds, including relief information for storm victims as well as verifiable resources for donations and clean-up efforts. Even if you don’t have a Twitter account, you can receive information via SMS:
Update: here's a link to donate securely to Occupy Sandy NYC's volunteer cleanup efforts:
Images: Jonathan Percy/Flickr; ekonon/Flickr
Reena Jana is frog's Executive Editor. Based in New York, Reena is the former innovation department editor at BusinessWeek, and has contributed to a variety of publications including Wired, the New York Times, Harvard Business Review online, Fortune.com, and numerous others.