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Here is part three of a story (click here for part one and here for part two) 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.
The rest of that day, we loaded up supplies on the back of the Rosenblum truck and unpacked boxes to be taken in to the chapel. Once we had enough stock to hand out, we monitored distribution, making sure local residents took only what was needed. As it started to get dark, I quietly packed up my things and fastened down the contents in the bed of the truck with the continued hammering of army choppers above my head. I thought about how fortunate I was to be driving to my family’s house on the north shore of Long Island for a hot shower and a comfortable bed. The residents of Coney Island I was leaving behind had no such luxury – just dark, cold, damp homes growing mold… and that’s if they were lucky.
The next day, I arrived at Sea Gate to find reinforcements had arrived. The Red Cross sent an ambulance where they were filling prescriptions and assisting the ill. A couple of volunteer veterinarians had arrived and were examining people’s dogs and cats and handing out canned food and medicine. The choppers were still flying overhead, lines of hungry people were already forming where the food distribution tents were going to be set up, and yet there continued to be a sense of optimism that continually permeated through the community. The weekend before, when my friend and I were handing out bottled water and supplies block by block, one woman kept cracking jokes while looking for a blanket to keep her warm at night. As we prepared to drive to the next block she looked at us and said, “Remember to smile. If you can’t laugh, what’s the point?”
One of the striking things I noticed about the people of Coney Island was their shared positive demeanor. I really didn’t understand it at first; these people had lost everything, yet they often shared stories and laughs, spread news they heard from another block over and always looked after one another. The reason they were optimistic seemed to be two-fold: They have no other choice but to move forward, and they are a real community full of neighbors who know one another.
The Rosenblum Companies sent me down to a disaster area to deliver a truck full of supplies and support for hard working New Yorkers in need. We brought food, cleaning supplies, diapers, toys, blankets and every essential item our families, friends and co-workers could muster. I drove our truck through public housing blocks loaded with Red Cross survival packages and watched as neighbors remembered to grab extra for those with limited mobility.
While it may take years before things return to some degree of normalcy for thousands of people living along the coast of New Jersey and New York, the outpouring of love and donations many have sent has given these people hope. The lion’s share of work still needs to be done and many will never be able to return to their homes, but we’d like to thank everyone who has helped by donating supplies and support these past few weeks. If you’d like to help, there’s still a great need for volunteers. Please check the links below for ways you can assist those in need.
On behalf of The Rosenblum Companies, thank you for all the support you’ve given.