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Thousands of AFT Members Volunteer in the Aftermath of Superstorm Sandy

Photo: AFT President Randi Weingarten and volunteers, courtesy of AFT

Thousands of AFT members immediately volunteered in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy to help the affected communities in any way they can. AFT represents about 365,000 workers in the area damaged by the storm, and many members who felt Sandy's impact still jumped in to help out others in need.

Many of the volunteers helped set up and staff the evacuation shelters in the region. The United Federation of Teachers (UFT) reports:

As Sandy raged through the city, residents of Coney Island, Red Hook and other coastal areas of Brooklyn sought shelter in the John Jay High School building in Park Slope.

Teachers from nearby P.S. 321 were registering arrivals. A teacher from P.S. 10, also in the neighborhood, arrived at John Jay High School on Saturday and still hadn't left by Thursday....A school psychologist from P.S. 217 in Ditmas Park was being used as a “floater,” moving from one room to another as needed.

“Teachers have been going out day and night,” said P.S. 321 third grade teacher Elissa Spencer. “These evacuation sites are staffed by a lot of teachers.”

Nurses were working around the clock as well, said Anne Goldman, a UFT special representative who leads the Federation of Nurses/UFT. Goldman said they were pulling consecutive 12- and 16-hour shifts at Staten Island University Hospital and Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn, which became de facto shelters when residents couldn’t get to evacuation sites at schools.

Nurses also were going from house to house in the dark and cold to treat patients in their homes who could not be moved.

AFT members from Baltimore and Philadelphia traveled to New York last weekend to begin filling backpacks with school supplies for the children displaced by flooding. The 19,000 backpacks they completed already are being delivered, and AFT plans to fill another 11,000 this coming weekend.

A busload of AFT volunteers from Connecticut drove to Coney Island and distributed food, winter coats and school supplies. After the Hudson River flooded last year, members of the AFT local went to Schoharie, N.Y., and helped rebuild homes. This year, workers from Schoharie returned the favor by helping rebuild Sandy-damaged homes in Staten Island. Supplies also were delivered to the Rockaways, Long Beach, N.Y., and a Health Professional and Allied Employees (HPAE) local office in New Jersey. AFT plans to deliver more supplies this weekend. 

You can help AFT's efforts in the Sandy zone by participating in the "First Book" program, which gives kids access to books. AFT offers other options as well.

View more photos of the Superstorm Sandy relief efforts from AFT members.

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