Posts Tagged ‘ Hurricane Sandy ’

Thinking About Hurricane Season and Rebuilding Together

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

This is a guest post by Isabel Kallman, the founder of Isabel is volunteering with Meredith Corporation in Rebuilding Together, a national nonprofit that believes everyone deserves to live in a safe, healthy home. Earlier this year, the Parents team spent a day cleaning, painting, and gardening at Gerritsen Beach, New York, a Brooklyn neighborhood hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. Visit to see photos of the workday, volunteer for a project, or to make a donation to support Rebuilding Together’s efforts.

Gerritsen Beach after Hurricane Sandy by Joseph Mikos Photography

Gerritsen Beach after Hurricane Sandy by Joseph Mikos Photography

 The beginning of September always brings with it a flood of memories and anxieties, frankly.

It’s the beginning of the school year in the Northeast. It’s the beginning of a month filled with beautiful skies and crisper weather, just like on September 11th, 2001. And, it’s the beginning of Hurricane Season for the East Coast.

As a child, Hurricane Season in New York City wasn’t something to which we paid that much attention. I remember schools being closed during Hurricane Gloria. But, she skipped New York City.

By college, Hurricane Andrew of 1992 was very memorable. Not because it hit New York (it didn’t), but because its path had crossed with the homes of some of my college buddies from Florida.  They came back to college in the Northeast having endured a Category 5 hurricane. My world and cares were expanding beyond New York City.

Over the past two years, New York City has prepared itself for Hurricane Irene and seen firsthand the devastation of Hurricane Sandy (some like to call it Super Storm Sandy, but to me that moniker underplays the devastation she left in her wake). I saw some of it firsthand in the days following.

Unfortunately, I think this is our new normal in the Northeast.  I think we should be prepared for annual super storms and hurricanes to hit our coast.

Since Hurricane Andrew, I  have often wondered how the residents of the Caribbean and the southeastern states mentally prepare and steel themselves for Hurricane Season.  But if there was one lesson I learned back during Hurricane Katrina it was how the American public rallies around others and how the Internet is an effective tool in connecting those who want to help to the resources that allow them to do so. The comfort I reach for now is knowing for sure that if and when a hurricane strikes our area again, there are many many people who want to help.

When my friends from around the country learned of the desperate need for supplies in hard-hit areas of NYC like the Rockaways, Coney Island and Staten Island, I was inundated with messages asking where they could send supplies.

I discovered in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy so many wonderful organizations that were able to coordinate the many volunteers who wanted to help. One such group is Rebuilding Together. It’s a non-profit group that for the past 25 years has been helping communities throughout the US with critical repairs post-devastation.

We Rebuild Gerritsen Beach with Meredith Corp

I was fortunate enough to be a guest of Parents Magazine at Meredith Corporation’s annual Rebuilding Together volunteer day in Gerritsen Beach. Along with 499 other volunteers, I visited the small Brooklyn seaside community where 75% of the homes were unexpectedly flooded during Hurricane Sandy. In team groups, we all worked furiously to help as much as we could that day. I was assigned to help paint and restore Kidde Beach which is the small neighborhood beach where Gerritsen community–especially the kids and families–gather during summer nights and hang out.

We Rebuild Gerritsen Beach with Meredith Corp

We Rebuild Gerritsen Beach with Meredith Corp

We hammered and painted as furiously as we could. Together we wanted to make a huge impact that day. I left with sore arms, but even though we couldn’t accomplish and restore everything, I was comforted to know that Meredith Corporation and Rebuilding Together would be in Gerritsen finishing up restoring homes and Kidde Beach as long as necessary.

We Rebuild Gerritsen Beach Meredith Corporation

Thank you from young Gerritsen Beach resident

Hurricanes are horrifying, as is the devastation they leave behind. But the Americans who rise to the occasion and help? They are awesome and a source of help and comfort to others afterwards. Knowing that fellow Americans want and do help, well, that  is a huge comfort to me. Especially now that it’s September again.

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Rebuilding After Hurricane Sandy is NYC’s Real Marathon This Year

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

This is a guest post by Isabel Kallman, the founder of Isabel is volunteering with Meredith Corporation in Rebuilding Together, a national nonprofit that believes everyone deserves to live in a safe, healthy home. The Parents team will be spending tomorrow cleaning, painting, and gardening at Gerritsen Beach, New York, a Brooklyn neighborhood hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. Visit to see photos of the workday, volunteer for a project, or to make a donation to support Rebuilding Together’s efforts.


In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Mayor Bloomberg cancelled the NYC marathon and instead marathoners visited hard hit areas to help clean-up. Many New Yorkers and neighbors from NJ and Connecticut joined them in the weeks that followed.
hurricane sandy 1

Rockaway Beach after Hurricane Sandy

I wasn’t planning on running the NYC marathon, but have come to see the Hurricane Sandy rebuilding efforts as NYC’s real marathon this year. Along with friends I did as much as I could. I tried to help with cleanup in the Rockaways. With my sister, I delivered donations– that poured in from online friends from around the country– to relief centers in Staten Island. My friend Jessica Shyba and I also delivered donations to Staten Island and then finally Coney Island, where I had spent many summer days as a young girl growing up in Brooklyn.

nathans in coney island after hurricane sandy

 I’ll always remember the sense of relief when I saw Coney Island’s boardwalk again that November afternoon. I was scared that it had washed away, like so much of the Rockaway Beach’s boardwalk. Yes, of course it could be rebuilt, but the Coney Island boardwalk had been such an early memory of my three-year old mind that its loss would hurt. I was so grateful it was still there.

coney island after hurricane sandy

Coney Island boardwalk after Hurricane Sandy

I didn’t write much about my visits to the hurricane-affected areas because my contributions were so small compared to what many others were doing. However, what I have since come to realize and learn is that if we all do a little, together we can move the needle and make what at least feels like a noticeable difference for the better amongst so much destruction.

So, I am eager to help Parents Magazine and its owner, The Meredith Corporation, rebuild some homes in Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn. It’s a small seaside community where 75% of the homes were unexpectedly flooded during Hurricane Sandy (the area was originally Zone B and thus wasn’t evacuated). Gerritsen Beach can be described as a tight-knit multi-generational family community with some residents living there 50 or more years. Gerritsen Beach had never experienced flooding that reached as high as 6 feet in the basements or first floors of their homes and along with it destroying the most cherished belongings of its residents. I feel so fortunate that I can go back to my hometown of Brooklyn and do a little bit more to help.

with sarah bryden-brown at gerritsen-beach

with Sarah Bryden-Brown of GoMighty speaking to local Gerritsen Beach resident Jimmy

Along with my friend Sarah Bryden-Brown of GoMighty and the editors of Meredith’s magazines, we visited some of the homes and properties we will help to restore on June 6. Now, there’s going to be a whole team of helpers on June 6th.

One special area that I hope to help restore is Kiddie Beach. It’s a small beach area along the Plum Beach Channel that serves as a gathering area for the Gerritsen Beach community. It’s where Gerritsen neighbors– especially the kids and families– gather during summer nights and hang out. There’s a basketball court, a playground and a small stage where the kids put on their shows– all of which needs to be refurbished. Originally, the community wasn’t expecting Kiddie Beach to be open this summer season. Coney Island is my Kiddie Beach and I would love for it to be available and safe for the kids this summer.

kiddie beach before hurricane sandy by

Kiddie Beach before Hurricane Sandy


kiddie beach gerritsen after hurricane sandy

Kiddie Beach after Hurricane Sandy

Remember the theory I’ve embraced? If lots of us can do a little bit, we can move the needle. That’s the goal here. There will be hundreds of volunteers from Rebuilding Together and the Meredith Corporation. Together with the members of the Gerritsen Beach community we hope to help finish a process that first began with a tremendous clean-up effort back in early November.

I’ve never had any desire to lace up sneakers and run in a marathon, but if helping to rebuild is NYC’s marathon, then it’s one I’ll always sign up. I love this city so hard.

Photo credits: top photo by Adrian Kinloch and Kiddie Beach Before by

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Cape May: The Shore That Sandy Spared

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

When Hurricane Sandy blasted the Jersey Shore last fall, my thoughts immediately went to Cape May. I took a family vacation there the summer before and was completely charmed by the town. After seeing news footage and Facebook photos of the devastation of the New Jersey coast, I had assumed the worst had happened. Fast-forward three months: I’m researching a Parents magazine story on the 10 Best Beach Towns for Families. I’ve narrowed my picks to a “short list” of a hundred or so towns that have great water quality. Cape May is on the list. So I made a call to find out what shape the town is in now. And much to my delight, I learned that Sandy largely spared Cape May, taking a last-minute turn in the other direction.

Cape May stayed in the running to be included in the story, and when other factors—like inland family fun and nature activities—were considered, it ended up being number five on Parents best list. Here are a couple of highlights from my family’s long weekend in Cape May, and you’ll find many more family-friendly activities in my story on the town.



My daughter’s favorite memory from the trip was an inexpensive program we signed up for at the Nature Center of Cape May. Staff cast a net in the ocean to see what creatures they could find, and then told the kids about them. The kids got to touch the little critters before safely returning them to the water. By the looks of it, all the kids in the program that day had a blast and learned quite a bit from this hands-on experience.

We went to the beach that was across the street from Congress Hall, where we stayed. Even though we were there in mid-August (peak season!), it didn’t feel crowded. And it was very clean!

At night, we checked out the shops at Washington Street Mall, a three-block outdoor promenade filled with adorable, independent shops like Bath Time (where we bought custom-blend bubble bath). For a treat, we ended up enjoying egg creams (a combo of chocolate syrup and seltzer) from Dellas 5 & 10. 

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Parents Daily News Roundup

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Goody Blog Daily News Roundup

Philadelphia School Lunches Get Fancy With ‘Eatiquette’ Program (Photos)
It sounds more like a restaurant order than a school lunch menu: baked ziti with a side of roasted fennel salad and, for dessert, cinnamon apple rice pudding. But that’s one of the meals offered in the cafeteria at People For People Charter School in Philadelphia. And it’s served family-style. Students pass serving dishes around circular tables, where they eat off plates, not cafeteria trays, and use silverware instead of plastic utensils. (via Huffington Post)

NYC Schools After Sandy: Destruction, And Restoration Showcased in New DOE Images
Hurricane Sandy ravaged public schools in low-lying areas across the city — and new photos released by the Department of Education Tuesday show just how bad that damage was. (via Huffington Post)

The Legacy of Lead: How the Metal Affects Academic Achievement
Lead exposure may be on the decline, but it’s still taking its toll on children’s performance in school. Legal requirements to remove lead from gasoline, paint and other common products have led to decreases in lead exposure. But remnants of the metal remain, according to the latest study, and this legacy may be enough to affect children’s cognitive functions. (via TIME)

Sleep Reinforces Learning: Children’s Brains Transform Subconsciously Learned Material Into Active Knowledge
During sleep, our brains store what we have learned during the day ‒ a process even more effective in children than in adults, new research shows. (via Science Daily)

Increased Risk of Sleep Disorder Narcolepsy in Children Who Received Swine Flu Vaccine
A study finds an increased risk of narcolepsy in children and adolescents who received the A/H1N1 2009 influenza vaccine (Pandemrix) during the pandemic in England. (via Science Daily)

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28 Acts of Kindness—for Sandy Hook

Friday, December 21st, 2012

Last week’s tragedy left so many of us drowning in sorrow and feeling helpless to do much about it. What on earth could we do to make things better, when confronted with such an overwhelmingly sad event? It’s not like Hurricane Sandy, when you could pitch in to help a neighbor clean out their home, or donate toward helping those who lost so much rebuild. There’s nothing we can do to help the families affected in Sandy Hook get back what was lost.

And that’s when I read about Ann Curry’s brilliant plan—to accomplish acts of kindness in honor of those who died. Many people are doing 26 kindnesses, for the children and teachers who died at the school. Others are including Nancy Lanza, the mother of the shooter who also lost her life. I’m choosing 28, in part because there can’t be enough kindness in the world, and in part because I believe strongly that Adam was a victim of his own, untreated mental illness.

I’m hoping to accomplish all of my 28 in the next week, before the new year…and I’m drawing inspiration from the Twitter feed #26ActsofKindness. So far, I’ve managed four:

1. Sent an extra gift and a heartfelt note to my daughters’ teachers (we already went in on group gifts for them with the rest of the class).

2. Donated to Toys for Tots in honor of the students of Sandy Hook.

3. Hosting a friend’s daughters over for the afternoon, after her regular babysitter fell through.

4. Left a Starbucks gift card and a note on a random car in our school’s teacher parking lot.

(Actually, I could kind of count #5, which was—against my better judgement—caving and getting an Elf on the Shelf for my daughters, who have been begging for one all week. Because basically, this week, I’d probably get them a pony if they asked.)

Imagine if we all committed to doing just a few acts of kindness this week…maybe it would become a habit. Let me know if you’re on board—and share your  ideas for sharing the love.

Photo: Margaret M Stewart /

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Participate in Secret Sandy This Holiday to Aid Hurricane Victims

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

One month after Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeast, many families are still struggling to recuperate from the damages they suffered from the storm.

To help, two women (Joy Huang and Kimberley Berdy) launched Secret Sandy, a Secret Santa-type endeavor for affected families who need extra help this holiday season.

Children and their families can register on the site and write letters to Secret Sandy with their wish lists, which will be sent to registered people who wish to donate. This is one example of a letter by a 3-year-old boy from Gerritsen Beach, N.Y.:

When we were hit by Hurricane Sandy, I was so scared.

The first thing I thought was the water was coming in my house fast.

When Hurricane Sandy was over, all I saw was all my toys broken. All I felt was sadness.

For the past few weeks, we have been living in different places & now a hotel.

The thing that I miss most is my Thomas & friends scooter & Thomas trains.

The one thing I really want for the holidays is to be back home, in my own room. 

To get a Secret Sandy or to give a gift, register today at To read letters and receive more information, check out Secret Sandy on Facebook and Twitter.

Image: Pile of gift boxes of various colors isolated on white background, via Shutterstock

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Parents Daily News Roundup

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Goody Blog Daily News Roundup

Obama Win Clears Health Law Hurdle, Challenges Remain
President Barack Obama’s re-election eliminates the possibility of a wholesale repeal of his signature healthcare reform law, but leaves questions about how many of the changes will be implemented as the national focus shifts to tackling the U.S. debt and deficit. (via Reuters)

What Obama Win Means for Education Reform
President Barack Obama—who pushed through an unprecedented windfall of education funding in his first term and spurred states to make widespread changes to K-12 policy through competitive grants—has been re-elected. With education issues, including funding and college loans, a steady though never central theme on the campaign trail, there is a lot left on President Obama’s to-do list. (via Education Week)

Children, Teens at Risk for Lasting Emotional Impact from Hurricane Sandy
After Hurricane Sandy’s flood waters have receded and homes demolished by the storm repaired, the unseen aftershocks of the storm may linger for many children who were in the storm’s path, particularly those whose families suffered significant losses. (via Science Daily)

FDA Grants Priority Review to Roche’s Breast Cancer Drug
Roche, the world’s biggest maker of cancer drugs, said U.S. health regulators granted a priority review to its experimental breast cancer drug TDM-1, expediting the review process for the marketing application of the drug. (via Reuters)

DNA Sequencing of Infants and Children With Anatomical Defects of Unknown Causes
A one-year-old research initiative brought together researchers, clinicians and policy experts to tackle the challenges of incorporating new genomic technologies into clinical care of newborns, infants and children with anatomical defects whose causes are unknown. (via Science Daily)

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How to Help Kids–And Adults–Process Traumatic Events

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Yesterday, our blogger Rosie Pope wrote a great post about talking to her kids about Hurricane Sandy. The devastating storm inspired them to reflect on the things that are really important, like the safety of the people they love. Even though the storm can help us put things in perspective and re-evaluate our priorities, it’s a stressful time for the millions of families impacted by it. You may feel overwhelmed by the news coverage–not to mention the lingering power outages, property damages, and transportation delays. New York City’s Department of Health has created some great resources to help families reduce and cope with disaster-related stress. To make this scary time easier for kids, limit their exposure to news coverage, and be sure to talk to them about the footage that they do see. Hopefully these tips will help the people in Sandy’s wake stay a little calmer as we rebuild.

Image: Family talk via Shutterstock

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