Battling harsh weather conditions and wading through flooded streets, filmmaker Casey Neistat risked a lot to immortalize the devastation of Superstorm Sandy on camera.
But thanks to his efforts, Neistat has managed to not only bring a level of intimacy to this horrific disaster, but he has also used the powerful footage he captured to raise awareness and encourage relief efforts for survivors.
"I was in New York City for September 11th and I was there for the 2003 blackout," Neistat told Fast Company. "I think in hindsight, you get a real perspective as to how unique those moments of crisis are in a place like New York City. I was unable to even comprehend the magnitude of the storm, but mainly because I had the resources to get out there and capture it all, I went out with my camera."
The result was two powerful videos: one that showed downtown Manhattan dark and deluged in the midst of the storm, and another that revealed the sheer devastation of Staten Island in Sandy's aftermath.
For the Staten Island video, Neistat had help from former New York Ranger Sean Avery, who had first encouraged the filmmaker to visit the borough.
Together with Avery, Neistat delivered clothes to the area's displaced residents, while capturing the widespread destruction he found there on camera.
this was someone's home. Staten Island instagr.am/p/RlY6AJJtXR/
— Casey Neistat (@CaseyNeistat) November 3, 2012
There is still plenty that Staten Island needs to get back on its feet, but Neistat's video is a reminder that recovery will take patience and plenty of teamwork.
"Neistat and the glimpses of the volunteer effort keep this video from being a documentary about loss, and instead it's about helping each other overcome the insurmountable," the Atlantic Wire's Connor Simpson wrote in response to Neistat's Staten Island video.
Since the videos were posted online, more than a million people have already watched Neistat's Manhattan video, while more than 60,000 have watched his Staten Island clip. Many of those who watched the videos, including TV personality Andy Baldwin and TV star Alyssa Milano have taken to YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to rally around the Sandy relief effort in Staten Island and elsewhere.
By going out to Staten Island loaded with donations, Neistat made a minor impact. The more people watch his video, however, perhaps the more will be inspired to heed the call for volunteer efforts, including donations of both money and blood.
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