Here’s What You Can Do to Help with Hurricane Sandy

hurricane sandy volunteeringOn Thursday and Friday governors and mayors were warning local residents in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic to get ready for Hurricane Sandy. On Saturday, those calls to action became louder: “This is a very serious storm. People will get hurt.”

By Sunday their message had changed again: “You need to hurry. Soon it will be too late.”

Today, with portions of many communities under siege from a dangerous super-storm, concerned folks from across the nation want to go volunteer and help out. Unfortunately it’s too late for those who want to respond now.

With the crisis at its peak, in most cases disaster response organizations like the American Red Cross are deploying the volunteers that they’ve been training for just this moment. Despite all your best intentions, you’d be worse than useless on the ground in Atlantic City or New York. You’d be in the way, making it harder for trained responders to do their job.

So what can you do if you want to help? There are two things:

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1. Donate to an organization like the American Red Cross that is working on the ground to save lives and provide food, clothes, and shelter to those who’ve been affected. Click here to support the American Red Cross.

2. Get training where you live so that if disaster strikes locally you can help. A good place to start is our Disaster Response & Preparedness Map, which tracks such opportunities in real time. Click here to volunteer to get disaster preparedness training. 

What Can Nonprofits Do?

Traffic to always spikes because of disasters. If your organization works to help people before, during or after disasters, there are things you can to do on our site to leverage this traffic for your mission:

After Irene: 5 Things Organizations Involved in Disaster Response Should Be Doing at VolunteerMatch

If you don’t work in disaster fields, you still have an obligation to get help your staff and constituents stay safe:

Is Your Organization Ready for Disaster Season?

Effective disaster relief begins with smart disaster preparedness. Use your money to help out now. Use your time to get the skills you need to help out in the future

What do you think? What are some other ways volunteers and nonprofit organizations can help with responses to Hurricane Sandy and other disasters?

67 thoughts on “Here’s What You Can Do to Help with Hurricane Sandy

  1. Pingback: Healing after the storm: How you can help those affected by Hurricane Sandy | Fresh Start Denver

  2. I have a group that would like to volunteer in the Rockaways for clean up……what is the process and logistics like transportation, lunch and advance arrangements


  3. I’m a member of the Canadian Forces Military [Regular service] and I have two weeks military leave coming up for christmas and I was wondering if NY is still looking for volunteers for aftermanth Hurricane Sandy. I contacted Canadian Red Cross but it’s my understanding that they are only on standby.

    Please advise.

    I can make my way to NY from Canada and I already have a place to stay in Queens [my family].

  4. Pingback: Hello Perfect » The challenge in life is not to become perfect, it's accepting that you already are. » Not in Kansas anymore… helping rebuild from Hurricane Sandy

    • The day after sandy hit I tried to volunteer and had a hard time doing anything. So I donated some money. I would like to be involved now and for the future

      • Rosemarie, please get in touch with me at If you are in the NY/NJ area or if you are in another part of the country, you can be of help! We are a small grassroots organization trying to provide direct relief for desperate situations after Sandy. We need all the help we can get no matter how small!!

  5. hello my name is Hazel Matson I am 15 years old and i am really into helping people and i would like to personally go there and help them rescue animals, help hand out the food, and talk to the people that really need to express their feelings. I think this would be a good opportunity for me. These people need not just my help but every ones help who actually cares. Christmas is coming up soon and all of them people are not going to be able to celebrate it. Their going to have to worry about their homes. these people need help so please contact me i really want to help. contact me at or you can call me at 815-590-2381 Thank You !

  6. Although it’s too late for new-comers to receive the Red Cross disaster response training to go into the area affected by Sandy, it’s not too late to volunteer in your local Red Cross Chapter. Volunteers can help with day-to-day operations, assembling comfort kits, blood drives, etc. Many chapters are very short-handed due to regular staffers/volunteers having been deployed to Sandy. Spend some time at your local Red Cross Chapter — not just to help during the current crisis — but also to learn more about the Red Cross, and to learn how you can be prepared to help at disaster zones in future crises.

  7. Looking long term, we will have between 100-200 youth for a three day conference at the UN, here in NYC, in late January. There is a real interest from many of them to offer service while they are here. How might a large group of 50 or more be of service that late? We will all have housing and meals taken care of and a donor wishes to pay for any local transport to bring them out to serve. What might they be able to do at that time? Thank you for all YOU are doing!

  8. Ever since the storm happened I’ve been contemplating on ways in which I can get a few friends together and go up there,gather lots of burners/ boilers, and cook a massive amount of hot homemade gumbo. Down here in Louisiana nothing warms the heart and heals the soul, like a big bowl of hot gumbo. Being that I am famous around here for my gumbo I would love nothing more than to share this meal with them. Hurricanes happens here all the time,so I know exactly how they feel. I pray for all families that are going through this because we here in the south never had to go through having a hurricane and the temperature being so cold. if anyone has any idea on how I can get there and get the ingredients needed please feel free. I will cook until the bottom of the pot comes off.

  9. I am looking to donate some time helping to clean up in NJ/NY in one of the upcoming weekends. Where can I go to signup for this or who can I contact? I’d be traveling from Maryland. The sooner I get in contact with someone the sooner I can go! 🙂 I kept searching, but no luck…..Thanks

  10. Pingback: Healing after the storm: How you can help those affected by Hurricane Sandy | Fresh Start

  11. I am fairly experienced at digital photo restoration. I would like to volunteer my services to those that may have precious photos that were damaged in the hurricane. I’m located in NC, but can work from quality scans or originals mailed to me. I’ve been unable to find an organization that is doing this sort of thing. Any thoughts or suggestions appreciated!

    Erin G

    • Erin,

      What a great skill to offer to help others! I would suggest searching for organizations working in the affected areas, and contacting them directly to let them know you’d like to help in this way. If they don’t have photos ready for you, they will definitely be able to connect you with community organizers in the area.

  12. I am from Michigan and would like to help victims of Hurricane Sandy. My fiance and I would like to donate our time with anything from clean-up efforts to distributing to those in need..please let us know

  13. Before travelling to the affected areas to volunteer you need to make sure that you have a place to stay. I know your hearts mean well, but don’t become part of the problem.

    • Thanks, Sue, this is such an important point! It’s better to donate some money now to organizations working on the ground, and then get trained to help as a volunteer for future disasters.

  14. We are looking for volunteers for our Virtual Volunteers Program:

    Organizers, Virtual Assistants, a Ground Team and Business Owners

    The initial goals are:

    1. Implement a program that will provide victims with FREE Virtual Research and Personal Assistant services

    2. Recruit Business Owners and Service Providers willing to provide their products and services for FREE or at Half Price then match those goods and services with the needs of the victims

    3. Raise funds to cover the cost of Business Owners and Service Providers who select the Half Price option

    4. Grow the volunteer support staff

    5. Raise awareness to the pubic about the program.

    What makes this program unique or different is that it provides an avenue for individuals and companies local or long distance to get involved in a cause that they wish to support. Also, we are able to pitch-in and help out in the beginning, during and after. When all of the organizations are gone and the victims are back in their homes we will continue to assist them get their daily lives back in order.

      • My name is Hallis and I am a school trained digital media designer for print production, digital media and applications, video/audio editing and prtoduction, and animation creation. I would like to offer my design services to small business in The North East who have suffered losses to their businesses and communities from Hurrican Sandy probono. I have left information with The United Way and Red Cross but noone has contacted me back for days now. So I joined volunteer match in an effort to put my talents into better organizational hands. Could some one contact me and assist me in offering my talents and services to these individuals and businesses who need help jump starting their efforts? I can be reached at 608-957-4006, or at my email address. Im a disabled veteran so I cant assist on the east coast with food or clothing or material hand out stations, or shelters, but I can certainly assist from my home with my design services. Can someone point me in the right direction? Thanks.

  15. I would like to get together a few people from my church and come up to NJ to help with the salvation army to help feed, distribute or whatever is needed. The only problem I have come across is where we can sleep. Motels are filled and family and friends in NJ are already doubled up. We are from Florida and if you have any ideas please email.

    Want to help an God Bless, Carol Holzschuh

    • I would like to get together a few people come to New York to help feed children and elderly, We can cook, clean the home distribute or whatever is needed. We are from Boston MA if you have any ideas please email.

  16. I am planning to go to Staten Island this Friday and/or Saturday to see what I can do to help, it would be great if all those who write that they do want to help get together and go as a group. Email me at peace be with you . Dave

    • David,

      I’m in Cambridge, MA and I think it’s a great idea to go down as a group to help out with the hurricane relief effort, especially in areas that are experiencing the most difficult conditions. I am looking for an opportunity to do this and I would be glad to be part of that group. Please let me know what the plan is.
      I have a few critical questions if you have a moment to give me some information:
      1) where is the group forming and leaving from?
      2) what provisions are there for traveling to the city, parking a car, if necessary and travel within the affected area.
      3) what provisions if any are there for accommodations and food for the volunteers?
      4) what specific kinds of help are most needed and how can I find a suitable assignment? (I am 73 and and architect. I may be more useful in administrative or inspection and planning work than physical labor, though I’m not opposed to that, if it’s within my capabilities–(or maybe providing providing direct personal guidance to victims?)

      I look forward to hearing from you.

      Paul Yager

  17. This is ridiculous. A group of us showed up in areas of staten island this past week. We walked the streets and asked anyone to everyone if they needed help. We helped remove fridges ovens washer machines couches and anything else that was damaged in their homes.Some of them were elder and unable. Others we just helped quicken their process. Everyone was so grateful. We did not see redcross anywhere and national guard just drove by us a few times. We called ourselves brown cross. I am from nj and plan to do just what i did in staten island again this weekend in south jersey.

    • Amy – Sounds like a great group of involved folks. I’m curious if your Brown Cross reached out to any nonprofits and if so what the response was? The original post was specifically about helping a nonprofit during the storm.

    • Brown Cross,let me know if you need help, I’ll meet up with you all thus weekend. No problem.

      • Hi my name is Maria and I reside in Elizabeth,NJ. I would like to see if I can contact you so I can help. Please post me a message so I can contact you I want to help but honestly don’t know what’s needed.

        • Hi Maria,

          If you go to and input your location into the search box, you will see all the ways you can help out your community.

          Have fun!

        • Maria my email address is Dave and I are looking for a team to go out on Saturday and volunteer. He’s getting information on to where and what time we should all meet up. If you are interested,please email me and we could set something up. I live in NJ also and I was planning a trip down to the shore this weekend to help anyway.

    • Amy,
      I am in RI and I would like to help do exactly what you did this past weekend. Could you suggest where to go or how to get started? We are a family of 5 and I am sure we would be a great help to some families/individuals. Thank you

    • I am a Police Officer that has a day of on Sunday and would like to volunteer my time to those who need. I have a few people who also would like to help. We plan on donating things but feel it is even more important to help clean up and help people who need things done like moving furniture and carrying things that they can not do alone. So please let me know if you are heading south in jersey because maybe we can meet up and help eachother help others

    • I too would like to help out. I will drive from Wilmington, De. I am very handy with any tool, will bring what I need, boots, gloves, tools, etc. I just need a place to go. Can anyone advise or I will join a group. Also, if people want from other states want to stay witgh us in Wilmington, we can provide a bed, then drive back and forth.

  18. I am a 40 year resident of New Orleans that went through Katrina, Rita, Gustof, Ike and many others. My experience is a the smaller community south of New Orleans. We had total devastation for Katrina and 5 feet of water during Rita the community was small and did not attract much national attention, but by neighbors helping neighbors we survived and rebuilt. My background is a US Merchant marine graduate with Oil field management experience. If any one sees a fit for my experience contact me; I have a wealth of storm related knowledge, am retired and ready to help.(currently living in PA)

  19. It is absolutely Not too late to volunteer! Shark River Hills was very hard hit and people have been cooking and delivering food to residents in the flood zones since the storm ended. Belmar has an aid center on Main Street by the Police Station. Over the past three days we have brought pans of hot pasta and sauce, muffins, bagels with cream cheese and hot dogs wrapped in foil and they have been very grateful. (My nieces are only 13 and 14 and they have cooked and baked and helped deliver and serve a great number of meals and being out of school until Tuesday they can’t wait to see what we will come up with for tomorrow). Dozens if not hundreds of houses in Belmar have been condemned but people are still trying to salvage things and the next few days I’m sure the aid station will welcome the help.

    Last but not least, my son and daughter in law spent about 5 hours on Saturday working at the Monmouth and Ocean Food Bank on Rt. 66 in Neptune. They are serving hot meals and giving out aid packages and need people to help sort as well as donations of food, etc. I personally have a problem with giving to the Red Cross after seeing my money wasted during Katrina and other disasters. I’m sure they do very good work, and they are on site here, but for me, I feel better seeing my contributions going right into the hands of the people who need it most. Good luck and thank you for caring about the Jersey Shore. We will rise again!

  20. Pingback: Hurricane Sandy | How Vermonters Can Help

  21. Hi, I feel soo blessed to say that nothing other than a few minor inconvieniences happened to me and my family. Therefore I see it as a sign from god that i should help those who were hit the worst by hurricane sandy. I live in newyork, let me know what I can do. Call me at 917 533 8367 (:

  22. Wow! What a negative article to write! I am sure all of us who are willing to volunteer can find things to assist with. If you are interested in volunteering and you live or can travel to the NJ area you can sign up through JerseyCares.Org….they are not turning people away because its “too late.”

    • Adriana – Thanks for your comment! It’s definitely NOT too late to help with recovery efforts in the storm-affected communities! In fact, VolunteerMatch has plenty of listing posted by local organizations that are doing just that. The article, which was posted on October 29th as Sandy was making landfall, was pointing out that unless you have training to respond to disasters in local areas, there are few ways to be helpful during the immediate hours of a natural or man-made disaster. Definitely, as time passes and the immediate danger is over, there are always lots of ways for well-meaning people to help those who need it. While most of us looked on helplessly as Sandy made landfall, people who had had the foresight to be trained were already in action. That’s the vision the article aspired to articulate.

  23. I would like to volunteer, anyway possible. I’m a quick learner so teach me what I need to know to help these victims. My heart goes out to every single person that was effected by the storm. Please contact me as soon as possible.


  24. Very interested in volunteering in the New York City area. My background is Human Resources – Generalist/Specialist, currently for a large non-profit in Syracuse, NY. Office management, computer skills, databasing, general office management. Excellent organizational skills. Would also like to help out in food pantries, help with children, assist in any coordination needed. Looking to come down on a Wednesday night – leave out on Sunday. Anything that does not require formal training.

  25. I am an EMT for a living as well as a volunteer. I also have 25yrs of construction experience, tools, a clean driving record and am physically fit. I live in Pa. but am willing to travel and volunteer 2 days at a time in any way I can including the use of my truck. Please let me know any way I can help. I just fully recovered from my own unexpected medical problem and am overwhelmed by the help I received with my crisis. Because of my own recent crisis I am unable to donate financially but time I do have and its time to give back. PLEASE let me help and contact me.

  26. You can directly help people who suffered the loss of a loved one, property or belongings. Here you can get familiar with their troubles and donate directly to them:

    If you have any friends and relatives affected by disaster Sandy, you can create a campaign to raise money for them:

    You can also support the New York City Food Bank – doing great work feeding Sandy victims – or other victims of Hurricane Sandy here

  27. I have 25 years plus training managers and front tines on communication skills in crisis situations. I would like to help train volunteers who are manning phones to help with Sandy Relief efforts. There must be a good balance between empathy and expediency to deflate the frustration from the uncertainty. Let me know what I can do or who to contact.

    • Dear Tony, my organization needs help with our IVR emergency communication system. We need volunteers and some one who can train them. We have a unique method of delivering this information to the public via email and text message. We also deliver information using short code via our IVR system and call center. Thoes who have phone services can also call our 800 numbers and get up dates sent via text or email regarding when power will be restored in their area, locations for food, water, shelter, etc. Contact me if you are interested in working with our organization.

    • I am here in NJ and trust me,we need your help. Contact the areas around Jersey Shore. They are beginning to rebuild and a lot of those families and people in the communities need help. They are in shelters throughout NJ for now,so maybe you could contact shelters and ask if they need assistance. FEMA is there and so is Red Cross,but I am headed down to the shore to pass out water if I have to. People here are screaming because they lost everything. I am still without power and I am really cold and I lost my food due to it spoiling,but I am sure somebody that lives in the shore is wortst off than I am right now

  28. I will like to help out my Westchester community with the elderly, bringing food to the disabled. I can also help at local agencies with making calls to different areas and work at local shelters in Westchester.

  29. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor from Louisiana. I am currently unemployed and would really like to provide services to those in need. I was working in an inpatient psychiatrict hospital in Monroe, Louisiana following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Due to this, I have a lot of experience in working with people who have experienced these kinds of traumatic events. Traveling to your location would be something that I am willing and able to do. I have also had extensive Red Cross disaster training.

    • Dear Kathleen, my organization needs help with developing mental help tips for the volunteer, first responders and victims of the disaster. We have a unique method of delivering this information to the public via email and text message. Our wireless emergency alert and reverse 911 message system can be viewed on all computers, mobile hand sets, tablets, virtually any handheld device, PDA, etc. and is not effected by down cell towers or power outages. We can send 20,000 to 300,000 text messages per hour with no character limit and on the fly for quick distribution to both the public and First-Responders in the field dealing with the tragedy. Contact me if you are interested in working with our organization. We need good ideas and mental health tips to help deflate the fear and frustration from the uncertainty and loss.

  30. let me first say my heart goes out to all those who have been affected by sandy storm im frome sacramento and i wish there was a way i could go down there and volunteer to help them clean up there city and help with food ect because i kniw if that was my city that had that happen i would want and need all the help i could get i pray for them

  31. HI, I am from Pakistan. I also wanna work as a volunteer for people affected from sandy. What should I do?

  32. Please let me know if there is anything I can do that doesn’t require training. For instance, checking on elderly, helping to cook or bring food to disabled and others.

    Thank you,

  33. would love to help with the disaster relief field i’m originaly from Rhode Island. stayed in Bangor; Maine over the summer. it is a very dramatic time for those who lived through sandy’s devistation

  34. I would add: check in on your friends and family in the affected areas. Many people have been evacuated and do not know if their homes, neighbors, families, and friends are OK. Contact them and check and let them know if they need you, you’ll be there to help.