Burners Storm the Jersey Shore

Burners Without Borders was formed after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans during Burning Man in 2005. Burner skills in temporary city construction, and practical tool use in remote/restricted environments, were useful in Louisiana, and also a few years later when Haiti and Peru were hit by severe earthquakes.

Now Hurricane Sandy has slammed into the East Coast, seemingly doing the most damage in New Jersey. Ironically, earlier in the year we were joking about the MTV Jersey Shore crew invading Burning Man with all the n00bz. Now it seems the tables are turned, and it’s Burners that will be flocking in to the Jersey Shore to help them rebuild.

I was caught in New York during Hurricane Sandy with a bunch of Burners. We partied like there was never gonna be a tomorrow! Then I went back to my midtown, fully functional hotel. As I left New York, I saw the absolute chaos at the few gas stations that were open, and the eerie emptiness at so many others.

Burners Without Borders went looking to see if they could help, and they found whole neighborhoods that had not received a single piece of relief, even weeks after the disaster.

Richard Scott has been working his way south along the Jersey Shore for a week, looking for communities in need but not getting a lot of attention. We had a hunch if we went far enough we’d find places kinda off the media map, and we’re starting to. Richard has just reached some communities where residents aren’t even being allowed to go in unescorted, much less start work recovering. 

We’re now in negotiations with authorities to be able to get in and offer our services, whether it’s clearing debris, rebuilding, or demolition. We’ve been offered access to some incredible machinery resources, we’re now doing all the due dilligence so we can set up in the right spot and stay awhile.

Richard Scott is one of BWB’s founders.

BWB has deployed an assessment team to New Jersey, led by BWB Co-founder and Director of Operations for Katrina, Richard Scott. During the 8 months BWB was deployed on the Gulf Coast in the wake of Katrina, Richard’s incredible heavy machinery skills enabled BWB to gift over $1million worth of debris removal to the region. When Hurricane Ike struck three years later, Richard was there to remove destroyed houses, so that those affected could quickly recover and move forward with their lives.

Good on them, but I can’t help pointing out that “I gifted you $1 million of debris removal with my incredible heavy machinery skills” is fuzzy math similar to Microsoft’s “we gifted the students of India with $1 billion of free software”, or the DEA’s “we seized $1 billion street value of coke”. Did this actually cost anyone a million dollars? Did BWB pay this? Anyway, I’m not bashing them, this post is about supporting them. And it seems that support is pouring in:


We just got two incredible tools loaned to us, by the father of a guy who volunteered with BWB in Pisco, Peru, who just happens to live nearby and own a construction company. Talk about the gift economy–he said “just bring them back with a full tank of gas.”

That’s 200,000 pounds of resources to put to work, friends. They’re thirsty for diesel fuel, and people to help clean up after them. Please donate or volunteer if you can:


And from Richard Scott: ” …… confirmed two donated houses for volunteers to stay in – signed up 6 structures to Demo – was asked to build a sculpture to burn at the annual Manasquan Thanksgiving day bonfire next Wednesday night ( hella deadline) – have 2 volunteer coordinators showing up to help “awesome”- O and the best of all ,,,,,,, I stole candy off the Governors desk and didn’t get caught! (Hersey Kisses) ya ,,,, that’s right “Im a bad bad boy” Memo to go out: looking for a Van to get volunteers and tools around, anyone have a spare Van in New Jersey? This car rental is killing me!”

What will BWB be up to on the Jersey Shore?

This week, Richard will be meeting with our local contacts in New Jersey to tour affected areas that are not receiving relief assistance. BWB’s mission is to fill in the gaps of the major recovery effort, and we will be looking for the most effective way to accomplish this goal.

Richard is currently in contact with heavy machinery companies who have donated machines to BWB in the past. We are also looking into possibly creating a base of operations in New Jersey for a larger volunteer deployment.

We will be providing updates to this list as they become available.

You can also keep up with updates on the BWB Facebook Page.

How can you help?

1. BWB is currently seeking introductions to equipment rental companies that would like to support our efforts.
2. We are seeking a community center or public space in New Jersey to set up a base of operations for a potential volunteer deployment.
3. Do you have information about communities that are hard hit but receiving little help? We want to know about them.

E-mail sandyrelief@burnerswithoutborders.org with any information you have that can support the relief effort.

You can donate to the BWB relief effort by clicking clicking here

Burners Without Borders has seemingly now been folded into the “mothership of all non-profit corporations”, aka the Burning Man Project. We’re still waiting to see what the Burning Man Project is all about, and if they’ll be able to make a significant contribution to the wider community – thus proving the claim of some Burners that it’s “more than just a party”. Burners Without Borders so far looks like the most promising Meatspace social initiative to come out of Burning Man, and we applaud anyone volunteering to help out with the Hurricane Recovery.


2 comments on “Burners Storm the Jersey Shore

  1. Pingback: The Ten Year Anniversary of Burners Without Borders | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  2. Pingback: Superstorm Sandy vs the Burners | Burners.Me Burning Man commentary blog

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