The past two weeks have been trying for the New York metropolitan area – from the normally bustling streets of Manhattan to the far reaches of Queens, Staten Island and New Jersey, where Hurricane Sandy upended once peaceful beach-front communities.

Now, residents face the daunting task of cleaning up, rebuilding and somehow moving on.

There's a lot we can do to protect ourselves from emergencies and disasters, but in a natural way. The experts at NaturalNews.com suggest having some of the following holistic items on hand in case of an emergency:

• Aloe Vera for burns and other skin issues (in a pinch, aloe vera gel can also be eaten for digestive support)
• Baking soda to combat bouts of arthritis and gout
• Rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide to clean first aid tools and light wounds
• A natural sugar source, like coconut sugar, to treat hypoglycemia
• Cayenne pepper tincture to boost circulation, and maybe even help heart attack victims

Check out the entire list on their website.

Always consult with a doctor or health care provider before treating yourself with new items.

An event like Sandy leaves us grappling for answers to often incomprehensible questions.  Control what you can by preparing your loved ones for a crisis and keeping them healthy at the same time, and knowing what hazards exist in the aftermath.

Unfortunately for many New Yorkers, preparing for an emergency can only go so far. At a certain point, Mother Nature wins, claiming people’s homes and businesses, years of family memories and hard work suddenly gone. The challenge of piecing their lives back together haunts thousands of people affected by Hurricane Sandy, particularly those in hard hit Staten Island.

Lucky for them, they’ve got the enthusiasm and infectious energy of Nat Candido on their side.

A Staten Island native, Nat works behind the scenes on the “Imus in the Morning” program with my husband every morning. But for the last two weeks, he has been front and center on a project he has eloquently titled “Operation Shove it Sandy,” which cuts out the middleman by going door-to-door delivering food, water,and other supplies directly to Staten Islanders. Right now, residents are most in need of brooms; mops; buckets; paper towels; utility towels; toilet paper; diapers, baby food, blankets, laundry detergent, toiletries like soap and lip balm; any non-perishable food; gloves; hammers; nails; and all sorts of cleaning supplies.

Donations can be sent directly to Operation Shove it Sandy, 141 Belaire Drive, Matawan, NJ 07747.

Operation Shove it Sandy is a grassroots volunteer effort, the likes of which have sprung up in droves all over the New York and New Jersey region since Hurricane Sandy hit. Nat’s efforts are proof that anyone, anywhere can make a difference and affect change, even in the face of almost unimaginable destruction. Support him and the people of Staten Island by offering up your time, and liking the Operation Shove it Sandy Facebook page.

Click here to learn about more organizations benefiting victims of Sandy.