A week after sub tropical storm Sandy made landfall in New York, thousands are still without power in their Rockaway Beach neighborhood homes.
Greenpeace has been doing what it can to help and rolled into the neighborhood Oct. 31 with its Rolling Sunlight solar truck. The truck’s 256 square feet of solar panels produce 50 kilowatt hours of electricity a day, enough to power a typical household, said Jesse Coleman, a Greenpeace researcher who is manning the truck.
Parked at a storefront at the corner of Rockaway Beach Boulevard and 113th Street, the solar truck is the only spot with electricity for several blocks.
“It’s become a major hub,” Coleman said. “The entire area is without power and probably will be for a couple weeks.”
Many residents in the neighborhood have lost everything, Coleman said. Their homes are filled with mud and they have to clean them out with nothing more than light from the sun and flashlights.
“It’s a major problem,” he said. “People’s whole lives were destroyed.”
While the Rolling Sunlight truck can’t fix all of that, it does give some of the New York residents a place to charge their cell phones so they can call each other, communicate and ask their neighbors for help.
It’s also created a warm, lighted gathering place for the community.
“People who are now, literally homeless, are out there cooking food for the community and giving it out,” Coleman said.
Greenpeace has set up seven locations throughout the city to help residents, though the Rolling Sunshine truck is the only solar power the organization brought with it.
Greenpeace is helping to coordinate donation efforts and process items in a nearby gymnasium. Coleman said they received some box generators that they’re giving out to people who need them.
This is not the solar truck’s first appearance. It’s more than 10 years old, Coleman said. And it has brought portable power to people in Mexico, powered the Seattle Space Needle and electronics at events like Occupy New York and Occupy Washington, D.C.
Coleman said he plans to stay until the weekend and will likely spend this week on helping residents transition.