Hurricane Relief Update – Part 2 of 3

Here is part two of a story (click here for part one) by The Rosenblum Companies’ Associate Dylan Medlock-Turek about his experience helping the Hurricane Sandy victims in Coney Island as part of an effort we organized which brought together our tenants, vendors and others in the community. Please check back next week for part three. 

The inside of an elderly man's apartment in Sea Gate, Brooklyn
The inside of an elderly man’s apartment in Sea Gate, Brooklyn

Once Joe’s supplies were unloaded from the truck and brought into the chapel, Tammy gave me a quick lay of the land. A large tent area had been set up outside where donated hot food was being cooked and handed out. Three grills were set up for hot dogs, hamburgers and anything else people dropped off. A woman from a synagogue in upstate New York drove down with 150 bagged lunches. Another family from Ohio delivered 200 bowls of hot chili. All the prepared food was taken to the tent area where lines of Brooklyn residents calmly waited their turn for something hot to eat.

Volunteers setting up supplies in the chapel at Sea Gate
Volunteers setting up supplies in the chapel at Sea Gate

Another line developed outside the chapel, where people waited to get inside to a supplies depot. Toiletry items, canned food, cleaning supplies, children’s toys and blankets were all set up in stations along a loop where residents, two at a time, walked through and took one of everything they needed. Many were grateful for the help and quietly took only what they needed before heading back outside. Others, unfortunately, were not as gracious. Some tried to hoard more than their fair share; others argued over what they should be allowed to take; many simply got back on line and tried to go through again. When people are desperate, a volunteer’s job often means saying “no” to people and you can tell who had been working since day one by their quick fuse and lack of patience. By the end of my second day, I felt myself growing resentful at people I viewed as selfish, then guilty for resenting someone who had just lost their home and all their possessions.

After getting a better idea of the relief operation Tammy and her volunteers had set up, she directed me down the road to the Logistics One. I jumped in the pickup and cut through a parking lot full of abandoned cars lost in the storm surge.

New York City Sanitation Department helping unload pallets off the trailer.
New York City Sanitation Department helping unload pallets off the trailer.

I was greeted outside the trailer by Anthony, a young man from Coney Island who worked for the New York City Department of Sanitation. He and his co-worker operated a tractor equipped with a forklift while I pulled the pallet jack aboard to move the skids. As we started pulling the pallets off the trailer, Paul Hackett from Hill & Markes (who had driven down from Binghamton), came over to help pull the pallets closer to the edge. Paul and I worked with Anthony while he told us stories of his family members and neighbors in a quintessentially thick Brooklyn accent.

We heard how many people refused to evacuated because of Tropical Storm Irene the previous Fall. That year they heeded the warning and left, only to return to find their homes damaged from looting, not the storm. This time around, they stayed at home to watch the ocean surround their homes and rise to second-story windows, while they anxiously peered out at the dark water with flashlights. I had heard a similar story from a friend of a friend named Michelle; her entire family lived 20 yards from the beach and all shared a sleepless night waiting for the water to recede back to the ocean. Now their insurance company won’t reimburse them for anything other than the boiler.

We unloaded all twenty pallets of donated supplies in just over an hour and a half. The pallets were taken to a gated area behind the parking lot full of abandoned cars.Stay tuned for the

Part three of this story continues here.