Open Your Heart and Donate to the Victims of Hurricane Sandy

Photograph by Master Sgt. Mark Olsen/U.S. Air Force

The last few weeks I was in Michigan, and heard about the disaster from Hurricane Sandy. I was quite ignorant of how severe the situation was, thinking that it was just “another storm” going through the states.

I was horribly wrong.

I contacted a few friends and family there and the damage and after-math is far beyond what I initially thought. Here is a message I got from my friend Jae after reaching out to him:

Jae: Thank you again for reaching out to me after Hurricane Sandy. Things are getting more and more difficult in the NJ, NY area, but I count my blessings that my family is safe and that we have not gotten flooded from the storm.

There are many who have lost their lives, their home, and hope from this storm. In New York, town like Breezy Point, Staten Island, and Rockaways look like a war zone with many homes either burned down to the ground or completely flooded.

In New Jersey, towns from Belmar south to Spring Lake suffered similar fate from this storm. For the rest of us with our homes in tact, we are getting by with no electricity and heating for 6 days now. The most serious problem now is the shortage of gasoline for our cars and generators. The average wait at limited gas stations is 3-6 hours and the line stretch for 1-3 miles all around the clock.

Folks are getting more and more desperate with news of looting and fights breaking out throughout these regions. My friend even had his generator stolen in the middle of night!

People affected by the power outages from Hurricane Sandy wait in a 2hr line at a gas station to purchase fuel for generators in Madison Park, New Jersey, on October 31, 2012. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson)

Disasters like this can feel so far away and foreign. Fortunately my close friends and family have been safe, but many others have lost their homes, personal possessions, and even their lives.

As photographers we privileged. Although many of us still struggle to make ends meet at the end of the month, we generally spend quite a bit of money on cameras, lenses, and accessories. I can safely say that donating $20 won’t hurt our bank account.

Men dispose of shopping carts full of food damaged by Hurricane Sandy at the Fairway supermarket in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn in New York, on October 31, 2012. The food was contaminated by flood waters that rose to approximately four feet in the store during the storm. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

I feel as a community we should band together, and help our fellow men, women, and families in this great time of need. I know that this blog is read all around the world, and I want to use this platform as a way to mobilize help and aid to those suffering now. You never know when you will be in a time of need, so treat others how you would like to be in the same situation and open up your hearts.

There are many wonderful and hard-working organizations providing relief to the victims of Hurricane Sandy. I think The American Red Cross will be the best organization to donate to, as it will equally disperse disaster relief to those in New York and New Jersey.

The remains of homes and businesses burned down during Hurricane Sandy in the Rockaway neighborhood of Queens, still smoldering on October 31, 2012. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

I urge you to donate at least $20 to this cause. That is about the price of 4 Starbucks coffees, or the price of two lunches. For that small sum of money, we can provide blankets to those who are cold, food to those who are starving, and a dry place for people who have lost their homes to spend the night.

Donate to the American Red Cross Here >>

To see the full extent of the damage, also see images of the after-math on The Atlantic here.