Boston workers help out in storm-battered New York City

A team of workers from Boston’s Center for Youth and Families and the Office of Emergency Management have been working in New York City to help residents in areas devastated by Hurricane Sandy.

The volunteers spend their 12-to-14-hour workdays doing a variety of jobs. They are involved in many aspects of the recovery, including bringing generators to nursing homes, fueling up emergency vehicles, and stocking trailers for the New York Police Department.

After New York officials asked for help from outside the state, staff members from Boston’s Center for Youth and Families — who are trained in shelter management because they must act as the operators of Boston emergency shelters when needed — were asked to accompany Boston’s Office of Emergency Management.


The Boston workers were divided into two groups, with the first team sent to New York on Nov. 3. They stayed a week. The second team left Boston Nov. 10 and will return Saturday. A few volunteers stayed the full two weeks, said Sandy Holden, spokeswoman for the youth center.

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“Everybody I’ve had the privilege of speaking to and encountering has been very appreciative of the efforts we’ve all put forth,” said Meagan Seaman, one of the two-week volunteers from the youth center. “Recovery will take time. That’s what the recovery process is, a return to a sense of normalcy.”

The Bostonians spent their first two nights sleeping on cots in a Brooklyn courthouse, which Seaman said helped the group get a perspective on the tasks ahead of them.

“It made you incredibly thankful for everything you have,” she said. “It makes you want to work 10 times harder to ensure everyone can get a roof over their head, a warm meal, and a hot shower.”

Despite their heavy workload, the Bostonians have found time to bond with the New York City workers, said Daphne Griffin, Boston’s chief of human services.


“They brought down a little bit of Boston flavor,” including clam chowder and Boston cream pies, she said.

The Bay State workers have also been on the hunt for freezers and coolers to store food for those still without power.

“They got some of the big bulk things that people take for granted, like Jersey barriers, and also the basic things, like toilet paper, water, generators, and pumps,” Griffin said. “It’s really interesting how quickly they did all these tasks from the moment they hit the ground.”

While the workers are eager to return to the Hub, they also are feel close ties to New York.

“It’s surreal. It becomes your life and world for two full weeks,” Seaman said. “It’s going to be bittersweet to leave. You want to get home and back to your life, but we also formed great relationships with the people here.”

Sarah N. Mattero can be reached at Melissa Werthmann can be reached at