This past week has been heartbreaking as the destruction of Hurricane Sandy has overwhelmed a large portion of the East Coast. With the death toll up to 110, an estimated $60 billion in damages and with more than 13,000 households and businesses still without power, the impact of the Superstorm is felt across the nation and will continue with no end in sight.
Often in the most trying times for this country, the best and worst of people and brands are expressed. And while I could easily spend this post talking about the PR blunders and insensitivity of American Apparel, Gap or the man behind @ComfortablySmug, a Twitter account that spread purposely false information during the height of Hurricane Sandy, but I’m not going to do that. Instead, I dedicate this post to the good. We have had enough bad this week, so I now bring you the PR heroes of Hurricane Sandy. We thank you.
The American Red Cross has been on the forefront of Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. “Hurricane Sandy: Coming Together,” generated almost $23 million for the American Red Cross with a one-hour telethon event. The Red Cross has also made it easy for anyone with a mobile device to donate $10 in seconds by texting “Red Cross” to 90999. When disaster strikes, the Red Cross has always stepped up as a leader in aiding the efforts; their brand is synonymous with relief and this tragedy was no different. Even with Hurricane Sandy canceling about 360 blood drives, the Red Cross has worked tirelessly to schedule even more and have kept people informed about what they can do to donate and help.
The Metro Transportation Agency has been the picture of transparency in response to the storm’s destruction. The Superstorm shut down the New York City subway system that “is 108 years old, but it has never faced a disaster as devastating as what we experienced last night,” according to a statement by MTA chairman Joseph J. Lhota. MTA responded quickly before and during the storm, keeping riders frequently updated, but it is what they did after the storm moved on that was truly heroic. MTA officers began working tirelessly to reopen subway and train stations and when the bus system began running, MTA waived the fares for the first few days as a record number of people had to take the bus.
MTA has been applauded for their handling of the crisis, much of which has been done through their Twitter account @MTAInsider and their YouTube channel. The Twitter account, run primarily by five-year MTA veteran Aaron Donovan, has been continually updated with important information, resources and photos of the situation. MTA’s director of external communications Adam Lisberg said that honesty is their policy right now.
“We can’t fool anyone about what we’re doing and we’re not trying to,” Lisberg said. “We’re not trying to tell people that everything’s great when it’s not.”
While this is a devastating and heartbreaking time for East Coast residents and the rest of this nation, it is important to see heroes rise from the ashes and work to make us better and stronger as a country. As one last note of hope, I leave you with Buzzfeed’s 26 Truly Inspiring Images from Hurricane Sandy.