By Christine Sampson
The floodwaters brought down by Hurricane Harvey have reached the East End in the form of a flood of memories of Hurricane Sandy’s impact here, and further west on Long Island.
Thousands of residents across the South Fork — from local folks and businesses to members of East End Cares to Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons workers to crewmen with the 106th Rescue Wing of the New York Air National Guard at Gabreski Airport — are lending a hand in various ways, including direct aid where Harvey hit in several areas of Texas.
“I think it’s just the better part of human nature,” said Melissa Berman, one of the founders of East End Cares, a social network of more than 4,000 people who formed a humanitarian organization and core group of volunteers to work on relief projects during Hurricane Sandy and the Middle East refugee crisis. “You see people suffering. You see these images and it could be any of us. We lost a human being in Montauk during Sandy, so we suffered a huge loss. I think we knew that could have been us, so everyone wanted to go help people.”
East End Cares is holding a fundraiser and will eventually send volunteers to Texas to help in the rebuilding efforts. It has partnered with Team Rubicon, a national organization of military veterans and first responders that goes into disaster-stricken areas to provide emergency response services.
Mark DeNofio, Team Rubicon’s liaison to East End Cares, said the volunteers there have been facing extreme environmental conditions, mostly in the volume of water that still remains after the rains.
“We’re now getting through the rescue portion of it, and gearing our teams toward what’s next — the damage assessment portion, sending teams to gauge damage in neighborhoods and how to deploy our teams next in the recovery piece they start to put together,” Mr. DeNofio said Tuesday.
According to a news release, the 106th Rescue Wing of the New York Air National Guard, based out of Gabreski Airport, has been credited with rescuing 546 people from catastrophic flooding in and around Houston.
The Sag Harbor Lions Club is modifying its annual Andy’s Run to match runners’ registrations as a benefit for Harvey-impacted areas.
“Remember how Texas helped us during Superstorm Sandy?” Steve Espach, president of the Lions Club, said in a letter to The Express. “The widespread devastation caused by Harvey, experts say, will now be the largest natural disaster in the United States of America. It will cost the entire country far more money to restore their economy, environment and individual lives than Superstorm Sandy ever did. We must not forget their generosity in our time of need.”
And volunteers and workers with ARF drove down to Austin with two 26-foot vans filled with donated supplies, ready to rescue animals that had been displaced from flooded-out shelters. They returned Tuesday with dozens of pets, who will be available for adoption at ARF once they receive clearance from a veterinarian.
“It’s just amazing how we come together,” Michele Forrester, ARF’s senior director of operations and partnership programs, said by phone Tuesday as she and her colleagues made the drive back.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
- The Sag Harbor Lions Club, which hosts Andy’s Run for a Guide Dog 5K each year during the HarborFest weekend, will match every runner’s registration for that event with a $30 donation to the Lions’ Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. Several individual members of the group have also donated $1,500 each, and the group is also collecting dry goods to ship down to Texas through the district-wide Lions Club ALERT Team. While original sponsors and runners who signed on will still see their contributions go to the event’s initial causes, including the Guide Dog Foundation and scholarships, 100 percent of the matching funds and other donations will go toward Harvey relief. Visit sagharborlionsclub.org for more information.\
- The East Hampton Lions Club is collecting pet food to ship to Texas. Donations can be dropped off at 238 3 Mile Harbor Road in East Hampton. Pickup arrangements can also be made by calling (631) 324-6363.
- On Saturday, September 9, East Hampton High School will be collecting school supplies, personal care products and new or gently used clothing to send to Texas. Drop-off hours are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Refreshments will be sold as a fundraiser; donations of food for the fundraiser should be dropped off by 10 a.m. For more information, call Debbie Mansir at (631) 329-6462.
- The office of Hamptons Risk Management Insurance Agency, at 2228 Montauk Highway, Suite A, at the corner of Montauk Highway and Butter Lane in Bridgehampton, is currently collecting American Red Cross-requested dry goods to send to Texas. Those items include: Non-perishable canned foods with pull-tab tops, ready-to-eat snacks, paper plates and bowls, plastic utensils, toilet paper, paper towels, soap, shampoo, feminine hygiene products and food for dogs and cats.
- East End Cares, a Montauk-based nonprofit that provided aid to victims of Sandy, and got involved when the refugee crisis in Greece hit a peak in 2015, is conducting an online fundraiser ahead of its planned trip to Texas to provide physical help, too. Its monetary goal is $15,000. Donors can text “Cares” to 87872 or make a donation at the following link: https://fundraise.teamrubiconusa.org/campaign/east-end-cares-supports-team-rubicon-hurricane-harvey/c143390
- The North Fork Chamber of Commerce and Jernick Moving and Storage are hosting a Hurricane Relief Collection Event on Saturday, September 9, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Southold IGA. The moving company has donated a tractor trailer truck and driver to take supplies to Texas — but the truck needs to be filled with items for people in need. Drop-off locations all week long include Blue Duck Bakery in Southold, Greenport and Riverhead, Wendy’s Deli in Mattituck and Albertson Realty in Jamesport, Southold and Greenport. Food and basic necessities are requested by the Corpus Christi Food Pantry, including baby food and formula, diapers and wipes, batteries, toiletries, cleaning supplies, garbage bags, canned food items with pull-tab tops including vegetables and fruit, and protein items in pouches or cans with pull-tab tops such has tuna, beef stew, chili and chicken.