Editor’s note: Alan Witchey, United Way of Central Indiana's Volunteer Center director, is one of two volunteer professionals in the national United Way system being deployed to New York City to help that United Way manage volunteer response in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
Nov. 12: Arrival in NYC
I think back on my briefing call yesterday. A reassuring calmness was in the voice as she explained the breadth of Hurricane Sandy: 12 states affected, thousands in New York still without power and water. 6,000 people raised their hands to help in two days. New York City is struggling to get back to normal. I'm honored to be asked to help, but I won't really know what that means until I get there. My first job is to assess the situation and figure out how to help in organizing volunteers to aid in recovery. I believe we are to focus our efforts on Coney Island and the Rockaway. In all the times I have been to this city, I've never gone to either area. I know almost nothing about them except the sad interviews I've watched on the news over the last two weeks. In one, a senior citizen hauled water up 14 flights while the camera crew filmed her. She talked about wearing six layers of clothes to stay warm at night. She couldn't understand why she still didn't have power or water.
Tomorrow morning I meet with United Way of New York City to get a briefing and figure out my role here. I'm excited and should rest, but decide to explore the streets to see if I can find Times Square. I feel the need to experience it crowded and loud.
--Alan Witchey, Volunteer Center director, United Way of Central Indiana