Diverse support for storm relief

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A wide array of not–for-profit organizations and private businesses have stepped forward to support or accept donations for Long Island residents who have been adversely affected by Hurricane Sandy.

At Mineola-based Island Harvest’s warehouses in Hauppauge and Uniondale, a number of relief agencies continuously drop off food to help in the effort. These sites have also been locations for individuals in need to make pick-ups from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

The Hauppauge distribution site is located at 40 Marcus Boulevard; the Uniondale site is at 875 Jerusalem Avenue. Island Harvest is working with local companies, such as Modell’s to set up in-store food drop offs. 

“We’ve been working around the clock 24/7. Every single day, people are dropping off food and items,” said Nicole Kowaleski, Island Harvest vice president of development.

Kowaleski said she had no estimate on contributions made to date, but she said Island Harvest’s primary problem now is raising money to pay for distribution of the goods the organization is collecting.

“We’re getting pounds and pounds of food. You can’t distribute the food without funds,” she said.

Anyone interested in making a donation to Island Harvest can go to its Web site at www.islandharvest.org, text: hunger relief 266266 or call 516-294-8528 or 631-873-4775.

On the day of the Nor’easter, Island Harvest distributed 117,100 pounds of food – more than 97,500 meals – and water to hard-hit neighborhoods including Coram, Center Moriches, Hauppauge, Huntington, Long Beach, Oceanside, Roosevelt, Wantagh, Mastic, Shirley, Amityville, Baldwin Harbor, Island Park, and Far Rockaway.

The East Williston center of the Tzu Chi Foundation held two events to distribute blankets and $500 per family in Lindenhurst and Far Rockaway over the weekend.

“It’s part of an ongoing effort,” said Dr. Kenneth Liao, associate executive director for Tzu Chi’s  greater New York Chapter. “We give emergency relief. We work with the local authorities for long-term efforts.”

Liao said the organization is planning similar events in other locations, including Chinatown in lower Manhattan and Staten Island. Tzu Chi is an international Buddhist organization with the mission of bringing aid to people suffering from natural disasters worldwide. 

At St. Aidan Church in Williston Park, parishioners have donated $17,000 for Diocesan Hurricane Relief, according to Msgr. James McDonald, who said his congregants have also brought “mountains of supplies, water, blankets and food to the church as well. The money and goods donated are going to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre, which has set up collection points at all churches in the diocese. The diocese itself also is accepting donations to be distributed through parishes in need and Catholic social service agencies.

“People here are very generous,” McDonald said.

He said the St. Aidan Parish Social Ministry are seeking people in distress in the community. He said one elderly resident who had been without power in her house had been staying in the church rectory.

Holy Spirit Church in New Hyde Park collected $3,000 and send three 18-foot-trucks of relief goods to drop off at different locations, according to Pastor Joseph Nohs, who said 15 to 20 parish volunteers helped sort through all the donations.

Nassau County has opened a Mega Hurricane Sandy Recovery Center at Cedar Creek Park in Seaford.  The recovery center includes a FEMA Registration Center, a state Department of Financial Services Insurance Resource Center, a Red Cross Food and Drink Distribution Center and a free mobile laundry facility. 

The state Department of Financial Services is available at Cedar Creek Park daily from 8 a.m to 8 p.m. to offer residents advice on how to file an insurance claim for property damage from Hurricane Sandy. Representatives will also be present from several of the nation’s largest insurance companies, including Allstate, Metlife, New York Life, Travelers, USAA and others. A FEMA Registration Center also is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to assist residents with registering for disaster aid, and housing and rental assistance.

The Red Cross meal distribution centers at Cedar Creek are serving meals from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Free washers and dryers are also available to county residents at Cedar Creek Park, with free detergent available.

The North Shore-LIJ Health System has raised approximately $2.3 million for a relief fund that will be used primarily to benefit hundreds of employees’ families devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Within 48 hours of landfall, the 16-hospital health system had placed 62 families into temporary housing, and that effort has continued for hundreds of additional employees who were displaced. 

Through the health system’s dedicated Emergency Employee Resource Center, North Shore-LIJ employees have already contributed over 1,000 vacation hours to impacted employees who will need to take time off to try to get their lives back in order. The hospital also has an online Community Forum where employees who want to help their co-workers in need can connect with them to coordinate direct donations, rides to work and other assistance.

“Considering how so many North Shore-LIJ employees care for their patients during their critical hours of need, we’re proud to step up and take care of our colleagues when they need it most,” said Michael Dowling, president and chief executive officer of North Shore-LIJ. “Even after Hurricane Sandy left death and destruction in her wake, there are untold stories of North Shore-LIJ caregivers who continued to come to work, despite losing their homes and most of their possessions to flooding and fires.”  

In one case,Donna Marsden, a unit receptionist at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, and an 1199 union member, evacuated her apartment in Rockaway,  after it sustained serious flood damage and a major gas leak. Along with her husband, parents and two children, Marsden went to Pennsylvania to stay with relatives. 

The Emergency Employee Resource Center subsequently found her and her family temporary housing at a North Shore-LIJ-owned property in Glen Cove.

The Albertson-based Viscardi Center, which provides education and vocational training for people with disabilities, has established the Viscardi Disaster Relief Fund to assist its students, consumers and employees who have experienced losses from the storm.

“The health, shelter, safety and mobility of these individuals have been greatly compromised,” explained John Kemp, president and CEO of The Viscardi Center. “Some have completely lost their homes.”

Donations can be made to the Viscardi Disaster Relief Fund at viscardicenter.org or by mailing a check to The Viscardi Center at 201 I.U. Willets Road, Albertson, NY 11507. All checks should be made payable to The Viscardi Center.

Williston Park-based Keller Williams Realty is among a number of Keller Williams offices nationwide that declared an annual Red Day for community assistance last Tuesday. 

Keller Williams agents are meeting on Long Island to assist residents in Island Park, Massapequa, Baldwin Harbor and possibly Long Beach. They will assist to help people gut out homes and take away debris from the homes of stranded agents. The company has also dispatched trucks with generators and other supplies.

In other developments:

• Nassau County is accepting donations at the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building in Mineola, Eisenhower Park in East Meadow and Wantaugh Park.

•B’nai Brith has opened a disaster relief fund, accessible online at bbi.convio.net

• Long Beach city officials are accepting donations at the city’s Ice Arena. Blankets, diapers, wipes, children’s shoes, paper towels, toilet paper, batteries, socks, hats and gloves are among the items needed. Food and water donations are being accepted at the East and West elementary schools and at Walbaum’s Plaza. Financial donations can be made online at longbeachny.gov or sent to City of Long Beach Relief, 1 West Chester St., Long Beach, NY.

Reach reporter Richard Tedesco by e-mail at rtedesco@theislandnow.com or by phone at 516.307.1045 x204. Also follow us on Twitter @theislandnow1 and Facebook at facebook.com/theislandnow.

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