By Sophia Kelley
Hurricane Irene quickly became a topic for light-hearted banter in the city, but our New Jersey and upstate neighbors haven’t been so fortunate. It’s easy to discount the severity of the flooding when our only inconvenience seemed to be a closed subway system, but the dire circumstances portrayed in the news became evident for many residents of Manhattan and Brooklyn when they visited their local farmers’ markets. Many upstate farms were devastated by flooding and some estimates indicate that 80 percent of Greenmarket participants have been impacted. Crops have been lost and farmland destroyed. Homes have been flooded and precious possessions lost forever. EPA is involved in disaster relief focused on household hazardous waste collection at sites throughout the region. But individual citizens can help out too. Local chefs and restaurants have come up with creative fundraising campaigns including last night’s “Dine Out Irene” where participating restaurants donated 10 percent of their sales to local farmers struggling to recover from the recent storms. In addition, this week kicks off “Dine In Irene,” a way for home cooks to organize potlucks and supper clubs to raise money for disaster relief. Get involved or check out other upcoming benefits. Please let us know in the comments section below if you hear of any other ways to help.