Residents of Staten Island's east shore are making progress in getting their homes back together, and a fellow Staten Islander is jumping in to help by doing some of the heavy lifting for free. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.
Mike Hoffman has parked a U-Haul at the corner of Slater and Father Capodanno Boulevards in Midland Beach the last several nights. The back is filled with tools, ready to help clean up damaged homes.
"There's contractor bags, masks, gloves, everything you need to establish a crew and give them what they need in order to do the jobs," he said.
Hoffman is offering cleaning and demolition services for free. A native of Staten Island, he lost his job as a landscaper when the company he worked for lost all of its equipment in the storm.
He began volunteering at relief centers. He quickly partnered with State Senator Andrew Lanza's office to distribute donated tools many people didn't even know were available, tools that are crucial to demolish the remnants of storm battered homes.
Eventually, he rented a U-Haul, paid for with donation money, to cart the tools and volunteers where they are needed.
"As we do it, we get better and better at coordinating it the further we do it, that we could do more," Hoffman said.
Using social media, and with help from local grassroots volunteer groups, Hoffman and his crew have helped gut out approximately 900 homes.
Svetlana Davydova still has no heat in her home, but Hoffman's group was able to provide her with a space heater. She said with help from volunteers, she's optimistic about returning to her home soon.
"Everybody from other states are helping, thank God, and that's why finally, almost a month later now, it started moving," she said.
Hoffman said he still needs volunteers because as more time passes since the storm, it's been harder to attract people to help in the cleanup. He's urging anyone who may need free demolition work or who may be interested in volunteering to email him at email@example.com.