“Most people on the East End have no idea of the extent of devastation that has occurred just west of here,” said Brendan Byrne of Shinnecock Hills on his drive home from Long Beach Tuesday evening.
People are struggling to stay warm, and to survive, he said. Mr. Byrne, who took a few dozen workers to Long Beach to help clean and gut houses, is one of many on the South Fork who have headed west to help disaster-stricken communities reeling from Sandy’s wrath. He owns All Hampton Services, a general property services company, and is paying the workers who go with him.
In those communities, where many houses are uninhabitable, vehicles are destroyed, and belongings are piled with debris in the streets, thousands are suddenly homeless, hungry, distraught, and scared, and many are contending with thieves looking to take what little is left, by land and by sea.
“They can’t get a piece of pizza,” Mr. Byrne said, explaining that there is little food to be had from Long Beach west.
The numbers of displaced families who have lost everything to storm surge are huge in places like Babylon and Lindenhurst and only increase heading west, where fewer schools are open as safe havens and communication is spotty due to lack of power and poor cellphone service. The gas shortage makes it difficult if not impossible to run generators.
As temperatures drop, the situation worsens.
Grim situations bring out the worst in some, but the best in others.
When Ed Downes, president of the Sag Harbor Ambulance Corps, heard that an entire fleet of emergency vehicles had been lost in the Rockaways, he asked his department if it would donate a 2002 modular ambulance that was recently replaced. On Saturday, it will be driven to the Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department.
“Why send it empty?” Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano asked Tuesday morning. An hour and a half later he was on WLNG asking for donations, and an hour after that, bags of supplies began to arrive at the Division Street precinct.
Many other South Fork residents and businesses have organized relief efforts. On Tuesday, a Hampton Jitney transported volunteers, along with cleanup supplies like gloves, bleach, brushes, and garbage bags, from East Hampton Town Hall to East Rockaway and Long Beach. A separate refrigerated truck followed with food. Caroline Wilkinson-Midson, a volunteer with East End Cares, said the food was gone in 10 minutes.
“Another trip is needed,” she wrote online shortly after her arrival, adding that diapers, milk, and flashlights are a priority. She called what she witnessed “total devastation,” noting there was “not a FEMA truck in sight.”
Those interested in helping, said Wendy Tarlow of Sag Harbor, another volunteer for the organization, can “like” the Facebook “Sandy LB Help page.” Clothing has been put on a temporary hold in some cases, the volunteers said, due to the time and energy required to separate out “Speedos and capris.” They are looking for additional storage space to enable the acceptance of all items that donors offer.
What is needed most immediately, they said, are easy-to-open and eat non-perishable foods, water, camp lanterns, flashlights, batteries, candles, baby wipes, formula, diapers, paper goods, plastic utensils, can openers, toiletries, towels, and medical supplies.
Clothes for all ages are needed and best separated by gender and size. Among the requests: new undergarments, new and warm socks, shoes, hats, and gloves. School supplies, toys, and games are being taken for children who have lost everything. And warm blankets are being sought for people and pets, too, who also need food and supplies.
Cleanup and construction items are also in demand, including bleach, work gloves, dust masks, tarps, heavy-duty garbage bags, rope, head lamps, nails, tools, plastic trash bins, fuel containers, push brooms, mops, shovels, rakes, and wheelbarrows.
The Montauk Community Church is collecting donations in its basement to be transported west from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. East Hampton Town Hall is also collecting donations, as are many local firehouses. In Southampton, the Hampton Jitney office in Southampton is a drop-off site.
Dancehampton, a children’s dance studio on Lumber Lane in East Hampton, started collecting donations of children’s jackets, hats, gloves, and other warm clothing on Monday and was to continue to do so through tonight. Clothing, which will be sent to East Rockaway and Long Beach, can be dropped off between 3:30 and 7:30 p.m.
The Goat on a Boat Puppet Theatre in Sag Harbor has joined with Holy Trinity/St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church of Staten Island to help that community. With immediate collection preferred, the theater on East Union Street will continue the effort through Thanksgiving.
The Southampton Chamber of Commerce is collecting gently used cold weather clothing for adults and children and shoes of all sizes through Monday. In combination, Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor will serve as a dropoff site for food and water donations in its lobby from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily this week and as needed going forward.
All three Bridgehampton National Bank branches in Southampton will collect items for Staten Island residents, to be delivered by Gardens by Romi of Southampton, every weekend through Thanksgiving.
The Hampton Bays Mothers’ Association has begun a gift card drive, to be distributed through churches in the worst affected neighborhoods. Gift cards to Target and Home Depot-type stores have been suggested, as have Visa or Mastercard gift cards. Drop off locations include C’s Home and Office Management on Noyack Road in Sag Harbor, the Sag Harbor Garden Center, Agave Bar and Mexican Grill in Bridgehampton, Southampton Stationery on Hampton Road in Southampton Village, Stevenson’s Toys in Southampton, and the Southampton Publick House.
Time For Teens is also collecting gift cards, which can be sent to Time For Teens at P.O. Box 552 Southampton 11969. Monetary donations are also accepted. The gift cards will also benefit local families in need.
Suffolk County National Bank is collecting monetary donations of up to $25,000 to be matched, through Nov. 23, when the bank will add its own donation to a check that will be given to the American Red Cross. Donations may be taken to any of the bank’s 30 locations, with checks payable to S.C.N.B. Hurricane Sandy Relief Account, care of the bank, P.O. Box 9000, Riverhead 11901.
Island Harvest is taking monetary contributions online at islandharvest.org, and is also seeking food and volunteers. A list of current needs can be found on the Web site.
An online registry has been created on Amazon.com by alumni of Occupy Wall Street, whose Occupy Sandy Relief activists mobilized thousands to become one of the more active volunteer efforts in New York City. Supplies can be ordered and shipped directly to those in need, and contributions are also being taken at Occupy Sandy c/o The Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew, 520 Clinton Avenue, Brooklyn 11238.
On Saturday night at LTV Studios in Wainscott, local bands and special guests will perform at a Hurricane Sandy Relief concert for the hardest hit areas. The concert will run from 7 to 9 p.m., with details to be announced via a Facebook page, facebook.com/LtvSandyBenefit. Tickets will cost $20 at the door.
In coordination with East Hampton Town Animal Control, the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons has donated travel kennels, cat carriers, pet food, litter, and blankets to the Rockaways and is accepting donations of pet food at its adoption center on Daniel’s Hole Road in Wainscott.
Ms. Tarlow, of East End Cares, said “We’ve been getting an amazing amount of pet rescue requests through other groups. . . . There are a huge amount of abandoned pets.”