East End Sandy Relief Effort Takes Many Forms
The relief effort on the east end of the peninsula in the wake of Superstorm Sandy has involved a myriad of individuals and organizations, all with one goal in mind – to bring a sense of stability, normalcy, comfort and help to Rockaway residents.
Help came from all over the nation and at times from right in our own backyard.
Councilman and State Senator-elect James Sanders Jr., who lives in Bayswater, was one of those helping to lead the effort. Within days of putting the word out about Rockaway’s needs, donations started pouring into Sanders’ Far Rockaway office. Diapers, cleaning supplies, food, flashlights and more filled the two rooms in the councilman’s office and the lobby of the building it is housed in. Amazon.com became a method for donors to order supplies and send them to Rockaway. Volunteers and office staff, led by chief-of-staff Donovan Richards, worked tirelessly sorting, bagging and handing out items.
Many times, with no more room to put relief items that were arriving daily, Richards re-routed delivery trucks to other organizations that were also in need of goods.
Some of those re-routed supplies went to the Far Rockaway Library. Chief librarian Sharon Anderson reached out to the Queens Library’s CEO Thomas Galante to use the facility as a relief center. For days, she, staff members and volunteers handed out needed items to locals. In addition to supplies from Sanders’ relief effort, Anderson said at the time that donations were coming in from all over. One $5,000 donation came from someone in Vermont.
“There’s an outpouring of donations,” said Anderson.
The Thriftway parking lot on Mott Avenue became a central location for such organizations as the Salvation Army, Project Sandy, Northland Response Mobile Kitchen, Gaining Our Dignity, the Red Cross, Operation Blessing, and other organizations too numerous to mention.
The Church of the Nazarene continues hosting a major relief operation.
“We are serving 2,500 meals daily,” said the Reverend Les Mullings, on November 30.
With only one manned firehouse on the peninsula at the time, The Big House fire station on Central Avenue became an operations center where fire, ambulance and even National Guard personnel stood ready for any need.
Long lines formed at the Edgemere Houses, Couch Park and other places that provided food, clothing and supplies to residents.
The Rockaway Youth Task Force, who headquartered themselves out of Nordeck Houses on Beach 57 Street, worked the Beach 60s area.
With the help of volunteers, the RYTF knocked on the doors of residents living from Ocean Village to Nordeck – approxi- mately 20 buildings – to check on what tenants needed and then delivered the supplies. They were so successful that they were featured on CBS News and in the Amsterdam News.
An ad-hoc group of area residents called the Rockaway Rescue Alliance set up outside the Arverne Post Office on the corner of Beach 59 Street and Beach Channel Drive, giving out food and clothing.
“Mainly people just heard about us and starting dropping [donations] off,” said Lillian Gerson of Beach 90 Street.
A tanker truck with gas from Delaware set up in the parking lot of the Far Rockaway East Park on Seagirt Boulevard for two days to distribute badly needed gas to residents. Radio station K-104 in Hudson Valley dropped off truckloads of goods at IS 42.
On November 9 Mayor Bloomberg dispatched the National Guard, along with members of the Health Department, to go door to door in high-rise apartment buildings to check on the health of those living there.