The recovery from Hurricane Sandy is not over, least of all in the Rockaways. On Beach 94th Street, a massive donation and volunteer center has been constructed complete with big tents, big trucks and lots of traffic. The goal is help residents along the road back to normalcy or, at least, something like it. Yesterday, a major donation and distribution operation from Sears, Robin Redmond, the FDC, recovery volunteers and several other important organizations helped hundreds of Rockaway residents on the way to recovery.
The operation began last Saturday during the Christmas party at Beach 94th’s donation tent. Hundreds of Rockaway residents entered to win supplies from the department store giant. On Tuesday night, Robin, Executive Director of the Flatbush Development Corporation and a Rockaway resident, sat in the FDC offices with a staffer and made calls to 125 winners until 11 p.m.
“People were crying,” says Robin, “because they were so happy to finally get good news.”
When the crying began on one call, Robin apologized to the woman on the phone. “I’m sorry,” she said, “I didn’t mean to upset you.”
“No, you’re the first person to give me good news. You don’t understand.”
Robin lives on 92nd Street in Rockaway and her home had been flooded, she explained to the woman. She understood exactly.
Yesterday, with the help of the Army Corps of Engineers, the Neighborhood Housing Service of East Flatbush and Jamaica, New York Cares, Red Cross and an army of volunteers, several truckloads of supplies donated by Sears (pictured above) were handed out to over 300 people in need. Each raffle winner had a choice of a dehumidifier worth $300, drills with lights and extra batteries or a 2.5 ton car jack to help clean up.
Beyond that, hundreds of multitools with sets of blades, more than 300 screwdriver sets, shovels, rakes, tape, gloves, levels and more were handed out thanks to a donation of high quality, heavy duty supplies from Sears. Many received tote buckets full of supplies.
Several raffle winners who had won the big ticket items — the $300 dehumidifier, for instance — turned them down. “Oh, I don’t need that. Please give it to someone who does,” said one man. “Can I just have an extra toy instead?”
The distribution on Beach 94th Street began when the Army’s trucks pulled in at 10 a.m. and ended around 5 p.m. Several boxes of supplies put aside for nearby affected areas and blocks were handed out later that evening.
Robin has been a focal point in collecting supplies and donations in Flatbush and then bringing them to those in need on the Rockaways. Neighbors have been dropping off supplies at the FDC offices for over a month now. Robin has been transporting supplies and donations to affected areas the entire time, piling them up in her living room when the need arose.
Just this past Thanksgiving, Robin gave out 50 bags of supplies with gloves, tape, garbage bags and more from donations from Flatbush. After distributing them at a designated center, the supplies were handed out on nearby blocks to homeowners and volunteers who were outside doing work on damaged homes.