Local residents pitch in for storm relief

By Brian Sweeney
The upstate community continues to support its downstate neighbors who were so hard-hit by Hurricane Sandy on October 29.

While memories are still vivid of the devastation caused in throughout the Catskill Region by Hurricane Irene in August 2011, area residents have been quick to provide assistance to the metropolitan region in this time of need.

Truckloads of help
Hearing the media reports of the path of destruction resulting from the “Superstorm,” Halcott Center resident Michael DiBenedetto and his family felt compelled to assist in any way possible. After making a number of phone calls, the relief effort was underway as they were making arrangement to load the family’s Vly Mountain Spring Water truck with numerous supplies for shipping downstate.

After being packed with goods donated by countless individuals and businesses, the truck to the Salt and Sea Mission Church in Coney Island and also to Staten Island.
Collection sites have been established at Now & Then video, NBT Bank in Grand Gorge, and the Halcott Grange. Canned foods, non-perishable goods and toiletries are desperately being sought, but clothing is not needed.

“We would like to load up the truck again and head back down by the end of the week,” Mike’s wife, Peg, told the News.

Mike added, “I think Coney Island has the greatest need because it has more poor and homeless people. Most of the areas where we brought supplies had no power or street lights. The northern part of Staten Island had no visible damage. Stores were open and people were shopping as if nothing had happened. Then, 10 minutes away down on the coast, it was some of the worst devastation I think I've seen.

“So many homes were destroyed. At one point we were five or six blocks from the shore, flooded cars littered the streets, their windows either down, or brown with filth on the inside. There was a fancy catering place where the yard was littered with debris and on the street in front was a flooded car with a boat parked on top of it. But, they were feeding people. They had a generator set up that lit the front and provided power for making hot food. There were many people there who were made homeless by the storm.

Mike noted that CitiHope in Andes provided approximately 30 cots and 10,000 prepackaged meals that were included with the first truckload of goods.

Toys for Tots help
Several area business organizations have banded together to assist a well-known children’s organization that was severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

The newly formed Binnekill Business Council in Margaretville, in collaboration with The Long Woods Business Association of Roxbury, Fleischmanns First and Andes Works! has partnered with the US Marine Corps Toys for Tots Foundation and will host a regional Toys for Tots Toy Drive from November 17-December 16.

The NYC Marine Toys for Tots sustained damages to its facility and inventory in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The facility, located in the Ebbets Field area of Brooklyn (across the bay from Breezy Point) is in the midst of recovery and replenishing its supply of toys for this upcoming holiday season.

“We, as a community, can help bring some semblance of the holidays to those families with children impacted by Sandy in those areas particularly hard hit by the hurricane,” explained Margaretville business owner Marc Levenshus, one of the organizers of the cooperative effort.
He added, “Please contribute to this cause and bring a toy to put a smile on the face of a small child.”

Mr. Levenshus said the community members are invited to drop off new, unused and unwrapped toys at the following facilities, beginning November 17:
Margaretville: Bed and Bath Shoppe, and the second floor of the Commons Building. Fleischmanns: The Tinderbox and Wadler Bros. Andes: The Andes Hotel. Roxbury: Quarltere’s Nursery. Grand Gorge: NBT Bank.

He indicated that several other collection locations will be added in the coming weeks. For more information or updated locations, please call Carmen Lopez at 845 586-6000.

Frost Valley lodging
Frost Valley YMCA in Claryville was extremely hard-hit by Hurricane Irene and received tremendous community support from both upstate and downstate residents.

With so many people downstate being left homeless or without power following Hurricane Sandy, Frost Valley officials quickly decided to provide a respite for storm victims.

The educational and conference center has set aside a number of upcoming weekends (see dates below) “for families directly affected by the storm to come to the Catskills and enjoy our facility, including hot showers, home cooked meals, and warm beds free of charge. We are also offering a Thanksgiving celebration for anyone unable to have their own this year due to Hurricane Sandy,” explained CEO Jerry Huncosky.

“Frost Valley YMCA extends its sincerest condolences to those who have suffered losses from Hurricane Sandy,” he added.

Frost Valley has reserved lodging on the following dates to provide assistance to storm victims. Weekends: November 9-11, November 16-18, November 30-December 2, December 7-9. Thanksgiving: Families can stay from November 16-21 or November 19-21,November 19 –Check In, November 20 – Thanksgiving Dinner, November 21 – Check out 1 p.m.

Contact reservations to register for any of the above weekends: E-mail: reservations@frostvalley.org or call 845 985-2291 ext. 205. To support Frost Valley YMCA’s Sandy Relief Efforts, contact Lianne McElhone: e-mail: lmcelhone@frostvalley.org, call 845 985-2291 ext. 295.

Pajama and Sock Drive
Brownie Girl Scout Troop 957 and Daisy Girl Scout Troop of Roxbury are hosting a Pajama and Sock Drive to assist downstate storm victims.

All donations were be given directly to those affected by Hurricane Sandy. The idea originated with troop members/sisters Kathryn McMillan and Ella Spickerman who wanted to give back to downstate residents in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut as as a means of helping to repay the kindness shown to Catskill Region residents following Hurricane Irene last year.

To learn where to drop donations, please call Adrienne at 607 326-6186 or e-mail: driennea2000@ya hoo.com