Just wanted to tell everyone a quick story about this past weekend in the hurricane relief effort.
I rode the Bonnie down so I could get through the congested traffic getting to the island. Once there, it was obvious that cars were going to have trouble navigating the debris scattered everywhere. THe devastation is unbelievable. I can only compare it to what I saw coming out of New Orleans after Katrina. I went to an aid outpost on the Far Rockaways at the west end of the island, about as close to the fire zone as you could get. When I pulled up, they immediately put me on courier duty. About an hour later another guy showed up with a S3 and we became something of a team. Spent the entire weekend riding up and down the length of the island, dodging insane debris, sand, mud, fallen trees, bulldozers and sanitation trucks. It was the closest thing I can imagine to being in a war zone. I'm kind of amazed I didn't lay the bike down (though I did gently once skidding through a sand patch when a van decided it wanted to go the wrong way doen a clogged street - luckily I was just pulling out so I was not going very fast. Managed to lay her down with no damage to myself or the bike). It was probably a master class in what kind of conditions to AVOID. Especially once the sun went down.
By the end of the weekend we had become the de facto information network for the various outposts since phone and internet coverage was spotty at best. Directing volunteers and donations, finding pockets of the island that weren't physically reachable by larger aid trucks and vans. I became "Motorcycle Eric" pretty quickly and people were standing by with notes scribbled on pieces of paper to be hand delivered to the other end of the island. I went down expecting to sort clothes or move debris...Never expected to be put to work like that. I was running on adrenaline the entire time but am chomping at the bit to get back out there this week and this weekend.
If anyone is interested in making donations, it is a little tricky now as the Red Cross and FEMA are centered mostly way out in the fire zone and the bulk of the island is being serviced mostly by random loosely organized volunteers. Occupy Sandy (www.occupysandy.org
) has some distribution information, including addresses and contact info for the larger agencies such as the Red Cross. Honestly, most stations are overflowing with physical donations and most are turning away things like clothing at this point. If anyone is anywhere near the region what is really needed is manpower. People to distribute what has been donated and to start the massive task of actually cleaning up.
Anyway, I just wanted to share with everyone here. It was a crazy weekend that I will never forget and it wouldn't have been possible without my Bonnie. It was amazing as I pulled up to various aid stations, people put out of their homes and waiting in line for hot food would walk over to compliment the bike. A couple had their pictures taken with it. At one point a police van pulled me over just to ask what year it was. I'm very glad I was able to help out in whatever capacity I could. There's more to be done.