This Weekend, Report to the Rockaways with Your Smartphone


When part of New York City is compared to Haiti post earthquake, you know things are bad. That’s the Rockaways post storm. There’s tens of thousands without heat and running water and still thousands without power. It could be months–months–before that changes. And perhaps you’ve noticed that the temperature is dropping?

This weekend you can help. Global DIRT, an all-volunteer disaster response group founded by two Marines, is on the ground in the Rockaways helping coordinate relief efforts there. Saturday and Sunday they need 1,000 volunteers to canvas the neighborhood to help identify critical needs.

Canvassing is a bit like going door-to-door selling Girl Scout cookies, only without the cookie factor. You’ll ask residents pertinent questions and log the answers into a web-based app on your smartphone. The GPS in the app will geotag the address, associate it with the resident and log the needs into a database. That data will then be shared with the City, FEMA and nonprofits who will respond accordingly.

So grab your phone (iPhone, Android or Blackberry, fully charged), dress warm, bring some snacks (Girl Scout cookies optional) and help the Rockaways recover. To learn more and to sign up to volunteer, visit

If you can’t canvas but would like to support Global DIRT, you can donate at Due to the difficulty of communicating up-to-date, accurate information to residents given the lack of electricity and intermittent cell coverage, they are looking to deploy a Radio in a Box (RIAB) System often used by the military. Your donation will help them install this system and distribute crank FM radios to the community.

One Response

  1. Helene Leskin -

    great but Rockaway is in Queens. Why would you bother to give info to FEMA or the city neither have done anything. People are living with no heat in mold infested houses. Where are the tents and trailers? We need people to come and help rip out wet basements.


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