Hashtag Sandy

#hurricane   #frankenstorm   #sandy

Hurricane Sandy took the northeastern United States by surprise two years ago. Despite seeing it coming, no one expected the death toll to reach over 280 people, the damages to cost nearly $70 billion USD, or the size to exceed that of any Atlantic hurricane on record.

Out of all the misery that is the memory of Hurricane Sandy, beautiful things have sprouted as well. #SANDY is one of those things.

In November of last year #SANDY, a book of photographs from the massive storm, was released. Over a year after the damage was done, many parts of New York, New Jersey and other affect areas along the storm path were (and are today) still rebuilding. This unique book seeks to contribute to these efforts financially and socially. None of the photographs were taken with a professional DSLR camera; #SANDY is a compilation of Instagram photos from acclaimed photographers at different stages of the storm. The photos are effective in evoking an array of emotions, all of which have been rotate through by all affected, including fear, despair, hope and determination.

A promotional video features one of the contributing photographers (Lyle Owerko) commenting that this book serves as a "marker for a piece of history". Mr. Owerko is correct that this book, whether found on someone's coffee table or slightly tattered in the dusty annals of a library, has the power to emotionally transport the audience back to the moments before, during and after the storm. Images like that of a solemn middle-aged man sitting in his recliner with just half of his living room remaining and newly added views of sky plus adjoining razed homes will strike a chord regardless of how far removed you are from October 29th, 2012.

Yet it is my humble opinion that this book does not only historicize the event that is Superstorm Sandy. I see a broader movement in "citizen journalism" and the power of technologies, such as Instagram and Twitter (inventor of the hashtag) that enable it. We already know the integral role Twitter played in the Arab Spring in 2010. This activity makes a statement for the potential levels of awareness and activism of current generations. A potential that I am eager to tap as a Millennial who has been characterized by both an optimistic advocate-spirit and flakey self-centeredness. Nothing against  #yolo and #tbt, but a growth in hashtags that aim to create value as my thumb scrolls up the screen I more than welcome.

All thirty-three featured images and information on how to purchase the book can be found at hashtagsandy.com.

For more insight on the impacts of Hurricane Sandy in New York City, the Huffington Post has a lovely diary-style article with photographs and footage, and there is an amazing time-lapse video of the storm from the 51st floor of the New York Times building (you can see feel the force of the winds and then see where the power grid failed).

Lets not to forget that places other than NYC felt the power of Sandy, here are some interesting maps which include a storm tide mapper and interactive before and after the storm aerial photographs.

And on another and final note, you may find this report of a study looking at the effect of gender on hurricane emergency response interesting, I certainly did.