By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Help is starting to reach the victims whose homes were destroyed and whose lives were uprooted by Hurricane Sandy, according to Brooklyn lawmakers and civic leaders, who said the borough is mobilized on both governmental and grass roots levels to provide assistance on everything from temporary housing to emergency food deliveries.
On the grass roots level, churches in Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, and Bensonhurst took special collections in their Sunday masses to raise funds for the victims. The churches also served as drop off sites or donations of canned food, clothing, toiletries, blankets, and other supplies to be donated to the victims.
The donations were delivered by trucks and vans on Nov. 5 to residents in several stricken communities, including Gerritsen Beach in Brooklyn, Breezy Point in Queens, and parts of Staten Island.
“We have received a lot of requests asking how people can help the victims. Right now, various items of clothing and supplies are needed,” said Ilene Sacco, president of the 68th Precinct Community Council in Bay Ridge.
Josephine Beckmann, district manager of Community Board 10, which covers Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, said the board is conducting a “food pantry and toiletry drive” for victims.
“Items collected will be transported to our neighbors in nearby affected areas,” said Beckmann, who added that the board is looking to collect such items as combs, brushes, toothbrushes, baby wipes, hygienic wipes, adult and children diapers, shampoo, mouthwash, feminine care products, body lotion, and Chapstick.
“Additionally, we have spoken to Tom Neve from Reaching Out Community Services, who has been working with Coney Island and Rockaway food pantries that were flooded out. He is accepting food and cash donations which can also be brought to our district office at 8119 Fifth Ave. We will be making deliveries on Friday,” said Beckmann, who made her announcement on Nov. 5.
Elected officials, including U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm (R-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Staten Island), state Sen. Marty Golden (R-Bay Ridge-southern Brooklyn), and Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) volunteered their district offices as drop-off sites for donations.
During the Nov. 3-4 weekend, Golden visited the Fort Hamilton Army Base in Bay Ridge, where he consulted with Col. Guyan Hines, the fort’s commander, on emergency procedures.
U.S. Rep. Bob Turner (R-Brooklyn-Queens) visited with residents in hard-hit Gerritsen Beach in Brooklyn.
Restaurant owners are pitching in by donating cooked food to residents who are without electricity and gas in their homes. Assemblywoman Nicole Mallitokis (R-Bay Ridge-Staten Island) personally thanked the owners of one Bay Ridge eatery, Something Greek, for donating gyros, spinach pies, and soup for the residents and volunteers at a cleanup project the lawmaker organized in New Dorp, Staten Island, on Nov. 4.
Coney Island sustained devastating damage as a result of Sandy’s horrific winds and storm surge, officials said. Councilman Domenic Recchia, Jr. (D-Coney Island-Gravesend) is among the elected officials working on an effort to get emergency supplies to residents there.
Recchia, who was among the first elected officials to call on Mayor Michael Bloomberg to cancel the New York City Marathon, said he was pleased and relieved that the mayor heeded the calls to scrap the race. “I am grateful to the Mayor for listening and I applaud his decision to call off the marathon while so many New Yorkers are struggling to cope with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Now is the time for New Yorkers to unite and respond to this crisis together and I believe this was the right decision,” he said.
The mayor announced his decision on Nov. 2. The race had been scheduled to take place on Nov. 4.
“I encourage all those who were planning on running and volunteering in the race to join our efforts to deliver food, water, blankets, and essentials to those who are in dire need,” Recchia said.
The parking lot of MCU Park on Surf Avenue, the home of the Brooklyn Cyclones, was set up as an emergency station where residents can receive supplies and get information from representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other government agencies.
Recchia said anyone interested in donating to the relief effort should contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Volunteers are also needed to help distribute the supplies in the stricken communities.
In another effort to assist victims, the owners of Sunrise Senior Living, a senior citizen apartment building in Sheepshead Bay, announced that they would provide emergency housing to displaced seniors for up to 60 days.
The owners of Sunrise Senior Living have also made available a Hurricane Information Line (866-385-0768) for families to call if they are unable to reach their loved ones for updates.