Hurricane Sandy: Record, Remember, Rebuild

Today, Historypin is launching Hurricane Sandy: Record, Remember, Rebuild. Together with Google, the Metropolitan New York Library Council, the Society of American Archivists, and the American Association of State and Local History, the project is a shared online collection of local history as captured by individuals and cultural heritage institutions alike.

We hope you’ll join us to share your own stories:, set up a school or local community project to gather content, or add institutional collections to the Hurricane Sandy Project.

Every year, natural disasters wreak havoc on communities around the world, and it can take months, years and even decades for infrastructure and homes to be rebuilt. Lives are lost and disrupted and permanent scars are recorded and remembered in family and neighborhood history for generations.

Seven months after Hurricane Sandy swept over the Caribbean and up the Eastern seaboard of the United States, communities are still rebuilding in its wake. The deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, Sandy left at least 285 people dead across seven countries, with additional material damages of over $75 billion.

Today, Google unveiled new Street View imagery for several locations affected by Hurricane Sandy, underlining the importance of shared community content to connect and remember.

Nick Stanhope, CEO of We Are What We Do (the creators of Historypin), and Executive Director of Historypin, said, “These communities have shown amazing resilience since Hurricane Sandy and we’ve been working with lots of local partners to set up a way for people to remember, share and sustain that process.

We already know that people will use it in many different ways, from practical recreations of pre-storm streets to support ongoing efforts to rebuild through to local stories of neighborhoods coming together during Sandy for mutual support.”

Jason Kucsma, Executive Director of the Metropolitan New York Library Council, added, “Many libraries suffered severe damage from Hurricane Sandy, but that didn’t stop them from continuing to be lifelines for their communities. Libraries throughout the city, despite being heavily impacted by the storm, rolled out relief services to provide communities with food, water, clothing, internet, and perhaps most importantly, authoritative information about the recovery process.” Many of these libraries are now beginning to help collect and preserve media content related to Sandy.

Archives play a central role in long term preservation, helping to examine the past records of disasters and preserve records in the aftermath of new ones. The Society of American Archivists is reaching out to their membership to facilitate participation in this project.

“We’re especially delighted to be working with Historypin, Google, and others to document the impact of Hurricane Sandy,” said Society of American Archivists President Jackie Dooley. “This collaboration matches Historypin’s unique capacity to build community around local history with archivists’ compelling interest in ensuring the completeness, diversity, and accessibility of the historical record. Good things will result from working together!”

Sayer's Wharf, Newport RI, flooded after Hurricane Sandy. Shared by Newport Historical Society on Historypin

Local historical societies give us a unique perspective on the patterns of natural disasters. The Newport Historical Society, for example, has shared photos of Sandy and other hurricanes reaching back to 1938, documenting the way people have come together to help one another again and again.

“It is very important for our nation’s history organizations to participate in projects like this,” said Terry Davis, President and CEO of the America Association of State and Local History. “When a national disaster strikes our country, the power of history plays a crucial role in the cultural preservation and long term recovery of devastated communities. As keepers of our nation’s history, we hold the records and memories of state and local history. AASLH strongly encourages history organizations with connections to the areas affected by Hurricane Sandy to contribute to this important project so that history is not lost forever.”

You can view the project, explore memories of Sandy and make your own contributions at http://historypin.com/sandy. If you need help getting started with sharing your content, please see our how to guides and videos.

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About Jon Voss

Jon Voss is the Historypin Strategic Partnerships Director. Together with global collaborators and the Historypin team, he’s helping to build an open ecosystem of historical data across libraries, archives, and museums worldwide. His innovative work at the intersection of technology and cultural memory is also getting him closer to his childhood dream of perfecting time travel.