Last week/this week: many workplaces were closed, so many could volunteer at the beaches where we spent the summer. Thanksgiving, Hannukah, Xmas, and NYE will buoy continued attention and effort through December.
Coming soon are January/February. The East Coast will freeze. Holiday sentimentality and end of year bonuses will dissipate. The quality of the labor will transition from wrangling supplies through mountains of photogenic debris and forging a sense of community with other helpers and survivors every day... to caulking around thousands of mildewed public-school toilets, one by one, alone. Those who immediately rose to the occasion out of necessity or empathy will grow bored or exhausted and need to recoup. And then the next disaster will strike. Public attention and helpful energy will move on because the new disaster will seem more urgent at the time.
There's always an initial energy and money spike. It's even harder to sustain long term rebuilding after the survivors figure out how to barely get by, and the rest of us no longer feel the motivations of shock and spectacle.
Hopefully, the grassroots organizing around Sandy is not limited to disaster relief, but will initiate a radical rebuilding of the East Coast. We can build up the interpersonal infrastructures of reliability, availability, skill-sharing, resources, sweat and organization that will carry us far beyond this crisis.
Take care of each other, feed the organism of togetherness, keep it going!