Southern Brooklyn

When No One Else Did, Real Estate Company “Cared” For Sheepshead Bay’s Sandy Victims

Fillmore Cares volunteers canvass the bungalow colonies on Emmons Avenue.

Sure, Occupy Sandy has now discovered Sheepshead Bay, and is making the rounds in the bungalow colonies and co-ops along Emmons Avenue while residents still wait to see FEMA or Red Cross in the neighborhood. But before they were there, Fillmore Cares, a volunteer group organized by Fillmore Real Estate, mobilized to give residents some much-needed help.

Brooklyn’s largest real estate company, headquartered here in Sheepshead Bay at 2990 Avenue U, turned on a dime in the hours after Hurricane Sandy devastated the community. They went from corporate headquarters to volunteer central, raising money, recruiting help and rapidly deploying a website to help coordinate efforts.

Initially, the organization focused on the hardest hit areas, like Breezy Point, Seagate and Staten Island. But with deep roots in Sheepshead Bay, they wanted to ensure that at least some of their resources went to neighbors.

After hitting a wall when they tried to find out what areas of Sheepshead Bay needed help, they turned to Sheepshead Bites. We had been trying to find a group to canvass Emmons Avenue, making visits to neighbors and delivering goods. When Fillmore called, we sent them that way.

Here’s what one of the group’s organizers (and Fillmore’s director of Business Development and Technology) Zane Burnett had to say after their first day of canvassing Emmons Avenue last week:

I was shocked by the amount of people who hadn’t been reach out to. One woman, who is immobile, told us that she hadn’t had a hot meal since the storm. We were the first person who actually knocked on her door to check on her.

Another woman told us that her neighbors, an elderly couple, slept without heat in the same room every night huddled up next to one another, waiting for someone to come and turn their heat back on. 3 nights ago, the elderly gentleman died of a heart attack.

The stories go on and on, and the good news is that we were able to write down the needs of 16 families who were still in their home and said they needed aid. Half of them were elderly. All of them said that no one had come by asking if they needed anything.

… Really man, I’ve been going crazy in Breezy and Coney Island for the last week and I had no idea ShBay has received such little attention. A couple of houses in the Courts have burned down due to electrical problems. Thank you for letting me know about it… we hope to get to everyone else tomorrow.

The group is still operating in the area, and now that other organizations, like Occupy Sandy and COJECO have started to become active in the area, Fillmore Cares is collaborating to prevent duplicating effort.

Fillmore Cares still needs volunteers above all else, so sign up at their website. They’re also accepting donations, and, if you’re a victim, you can request aid there as well.

In the meantime, our sincerest thanks to Fillmore Real Estate, Fillmore Cares, Zane Burnett, Fillmore President John Reinhardt and all the volunteers who’ve been helping out.