Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast in late October 2012, and quickly became one of the most costly storms in United States history in terms of damage and disruption, second only to Hurricane Katrina. As millions in New York and New Jersey lost their power, relief organizations mobilized to help. Lisa Orloff, of the World Cares Center, contacted TIDES after the storm, and asked for help with heating solutions for people in Rockaway, NY, who had lost their power and heat. The TIDES team went to work and contacted their STAR-TIDES network for any information about sustainable heating solutions that would benefit the people of Rockaway. TIDES sent out the call to the network via email asking for information about non-electric heating solutions that could provide heat for single rooms to support relief efforts. Specifically, TIDES asked for heating solutions that were portable, low cost, commercially available, non-electric, and safe for indoor use.
Members of the STAR-TIDES network responded with many different ideas to solve Orloff’s request. Mark Apfelbacher, Director of Environmental Procurement for The Stratford Companies, responded with information about a portable catalytic space heater, and provided 1,200 of the units to World Cares Center for use to the relief effort. The propane heater is small, safe for indoor use, and retails for $45. Stratford also procured the propane required for the people of Rockaway to use these heaters. The Hurricane Sandy call to the network was an important realization of efforts TIDES practices during quarterly Research and Experimentation for Local and International Emergency First-Responders (RELIEF) exercises held at Camp Roberts, California. The RELIEF events help to allow different disaster relief organizations to meet and share technology, ideas, and strategies for dealing with crises. By meeting and establishing relationships before disasters strike, the first responders are better able to collaborate during emergencies.