Supporting Sandy Recovery

Photos by Katie Hards

Hurricane Sandy left a battered path in her wake, to be sure. As she made her way up the east coast, those of us in the New York area were hunkered down in our homes (or somewhere we could temporarily call home), feeling powerless and vulnerable. On the other side of it, were humbled to learn that many of our friends and neighbors experienced loss on a far more devastating scale.

Then as the lights flickered back on and we made our way to the office last week, we found an opportunity to pitch in with those for whom the lights going out was much lower on the list of pressing concerns. The CityEats team in New York dispatched to Rockaway Beach last Friday to lend a hand. There, we saw the full scope of Sandy’s wrath — but also discovered one of the most incredible grassroots volunteer efforts any of us has been a part of.

Rockaway Taco Mission Control

Rockaway Taco’s mission control, where food trucks have decamped to offer free food to volunteers and locals alike.

Through an organization that is still without an official title (dubbed “Rockaway Taco” because of the core group’s affiliation with the food stand), friends of friends have rallied on the corner at Beach 96th St, across from the namesake eatery, to pitch in daily with supplies and food and a willingness to simply do something — anything — to help. So we spent the day meeting these great people, including those who endured this storm, and made ourselves useful in some small way. Here are some scenes from Rockaway Beach — and some volunteer resources for those looking to help.

Rockaway Taco

Rockaway Taco, which is now serving free food to locals and volunteers.

The scene on the beach, where the boardwalk used to be.

Rockaway Beach House

A home on Beach 96th St.


The volunteer effort is ongoing, and will the rebuilding effort will take months in this area.

How to help:

  • Donate to Red Cross Hurricane Relief Effort: For every reservation you book on CityEats between now and Thanksgiving, November 22, we’ll donate $10 to the organization.
  • For those in the New York area, grassroots volunteer efforts like Rockaway Taco are a good way to get involved directly. Find out more about these groups.
For those looking to go to Rockaway Beach:
  • You can simply show up — the team at Beach 96th Street needs weekday volunteers with equipment in-hand, such as shovels, masks, construction bags, cleaning supplies, etc.
  • They could also use donations of toiletries, food, cleaning supplies, diapers and baby gear and blankets.
  • If you’d like to organize a group to go, CityEats would be happy to help you facilitate that. We ended up there through someone who knows someone — and are glad to play that role for others looking to pitch in. Please contact us directly at