08/04/2014 04:24 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

What Can We Learn From Young Sandy Survivors?

Shocked. Scared. Sad. This is how Oladayin Ogunsola described feeling when at age 10 Hurricane Sandy devastated her community of Far Rockaway, Queens.

Her building's lobby was totally flooded. Her apartment went dark, and was then lit only by candles and lanterns for an entire month. Without electricity, the family had to walk up and down nine flights of stairs anytime they needed to get basics like food, or diapers for her baby sister.

Down on the streets Oladayin saw neighbors discarding all their belongings in the world, ruined in the storm. Her own family lost both their cars and had no way to leave the neighborhood. The subway was down and would remain so for months.

Oladayin couldn't go to school for days. She felt trapped, restless and confused.

"There was really no form of information because the phones were down," she said.

Oladayin shared her experience with Save the Children staff the day we cohosted a "Prep Rally" at The Action Center. This wonderful community center has long provided much-needed activities and a safe environment for children in a difficult neighborhood, and it became a local hub for relief efforts after Sandy hit.

Today, The Action Center is a hub in the next stage of recovery: preparedness. Last week, nearly 200 children at the center's summer program enjoyed a day of activities focused on steps all families can take to protect children from disaster--before it strikes.

Olayadin said her favorite part of the day was petting Lassie, the new ambassador for Save the Children's Get Ready Get Safe initiative. She felt good about taking the pledge to protect children from disaster and hopes that she and other kids who endured Sandy can convince grownups to do the same.

"You should always be prepared for things like this," she said. "And you should have a plan ready. So just in case things like this happen, you'll know what to do and where to evacuate to."

A great way to start is to take the pledge to protect children from disaster and get information on making your own emergency plan and disaster kit.

Need the perfect bag to hold essential disaster supplies? Visit a Toys"R"Us store to purchase a special-edition reusable bag decorated in children's artwork, and $1 will benefit Save the Children's Domestic Emergency Fund.


Children at Save the Children's Prep Rally pledge to help their families get ready for disasters.


Lassie makes a special visit, encouraging children to make disaster plans and supplies kits.


Kids race to gather disaster supplies during a Prep Rally relay.