“Who wants business like this?”

……is a quote from a fellow New York City area remodeler who by noon on Wednesday had several major catastrophes on his company’s plate including a home that has been knocked down by Hurricane Sandy. He continues: “This is probably going to be an adrenaline shot for our industry in the affected areas but I’m not excited about it.” (from Daily5Remodel).

I share his sentiment to an extent, but I have always considered renovations at their very best to be a direct and tangible improvement of people’s lives, through the positive transformation of their immediate surroundings. As within, so without…and vice versa. So to put the pieces back together of a flood damaged home seems to me an act of healing and therefore an inherently more satisfying endeavor than, say, brightening a bath or improving the workflow of a kitchen.

Any contractor working in Manhattan will be happy to swap war stories about the logistics of moving workers, vehicles and materials in our fair city. It can be a daunting task even on a summery, low-traffic August day, but factor in winter weather and the potential for material and labor shortages due to the storm, and the puzzle becomes that much more interesting.

I am riding the A train downtown on Sunday morning the 4th of November, the day the marathon would have taken place were it not for a storm named Sandy. It is the first of many trains I will take to the Park Slope Armory to see if volunteers are still needed to assist the elderly and displaced. My truck is out of gas and there is none to be had uptown for love nor money. I left my bicycle at home after riding many miles in search of volunteer opportunities yesterday and my rear end is very grateful for the down vest beneath it on a smooth subway seat. I bought that bike during the transit strike and have unhooked it from the ceiling a lot less than I care to admit but it served me admirably yesterday. It was a fine, blustery autumn day and I was happy to be above ground pedaling past the National Guard handing out bottled water and the cops pumping gas to the cars snaked around the Lower East Side. I finally found a job in Brooklyn, helping Occupy Sandy hump supplies in and out of their ad hoc distribution center at St. Lukes church. They are moving an enormous amount of donations – and quickly too. And I don’t think I’m going out on a limb here to posit that they have more PPP’s (piercings per person) than any other relief organization in town.

(As I write, the city run shelter at the Park Slope Armory/YMCA is still accepting drop-in volunteers and I promise you many a fine Sandy escape story from some of New York’s original characters there. : )

WNYC’s link to how you can help: http://www.wnyc.org/articles/wnyc-news/2012/oct/30/how-help-hurricane-sandy/

——Sean Robinson