Grassroots Volunteer Efforts Help Sea Gate Move Forward
Updated: Updated 11/13/2012 10:03 PM
By: Jeanine Ramirez
From the local police precinct to the few spots to acquire hot food, the waterfront community of Sea Gate, Brooklyn is depending on donations to keep life going following the devastation of Sandy. NY1's Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.
There is a common sight on homes in Sea Gate: a red sticker from the New York City Department of Buildings deeming the structure unsafe.
Eight feet of water swept the neighborhood, obliterating houses.
Members of Sea Gate's private police force had to flee their station house. Officers said they had to take cover on a resident's porch.
"At about three o'clock in the morning, we started walking around," said Lt. Adriel Caamano of the Sea Gate Police. "Some people were screaming for help. We actually broke through a wall and got some people to safety."
Now, the force is operating out of a donated trailer. Donated items are being given out at a makeshift relief center, complete with a grill set up, offering residents hot food.
"Two days after the storm, I just came here and I asked, 'was there a need?' and they said yes," said Pastor John Connors of the Horizon Christian Fellowship Church. "So where can we set up? They said 'anywhere you want.' So we've been here two weeks tomorrow, I guess, cooking hamburgers and hot dogs and chicken. Many people have been donating anything and everything, and so it's been real good in that way."
"I've been driving around, collecting from houses," said volunteer Angela Zikherman. "People have been coming, bringing in. It's been really a grassroot effort."
The effort is systematic. Residents are handed a form, check off what they need, and it acts as a shopping list.
"The volunteers basically take the list, go in and do the shopping for them, and we bring out the bags," Zikherman said.
Those on the receiving end say they're grateful for the help.
"I lost everything," said Elizabeth Rivera, a Sea Gate resident. "My apartment, the water was like five-and-a-half to 6 feet and I have nothing. That's why I'm here."
"I don't have no electricity, no hot water," said Angelica Torres, a Coney Island resident. "So I need a blanket. I need fresh water. We don't have any food. All the supermarkets, all the stores are closed. There's nothing fresh out here. We don't want to eat anything fresh except for when they come help us out because everything is contaminated. You have to be thankful for what they're giving us."
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