In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the Lower East Side was both severely affected by the storm and isolated from the rest of the city. It took several days for city-wide relief efforts to reach the neighborhood and in this critical time period, the grassroots response of many small, local organizations proved to be life-saving. Recognizing this, Lower East Side community organizations, service providers and neighborhood institutions formed LES Ready, a long-term recovery group, in order to strengthen social resiliency and facilitate coordinated community responses in the event of future disasters.
In 2013, Hester Street (HST) worked closely with LES Ready members to assess post-Sandy response efforts through focus groups, surveys and interviews. Over the course of 6 months, HST engaged local residents to map existing resources, identify service gaps, and plan for future resource coordination and development. The results of this process included a report of findings and recommendations for the city, and a map of neighborhood resources with disaster preparedness tips. The report was then used to inform the creation of a Community Disaster Relief plan.