Saving parents devastated by Hurricane Sandy

This is undoubtedly the most destructive storm to NYC my parents have seen in their lifetime.  They both have lived in Old Howard Beach, SE Queens for over 30 years. Although they've been divorced for over 20 years, they've stayed on the same street in separate homes.  The street is Russell Street, and it marks the beginning of Hamilton Beach.  It's very close to JFK airport, and all the houses on the street line the waterfront of an extension of Jamaica Bay.  Before Monday, October 29th, Russell Street was relatively peaceful and quiet, despite the pervasive planes flying overhead, and the place my parents called home.  After Hurricane Sandy ripped in, Russell Street was under water, with cars and boats floating into yards, debris breaking windows, and residents' lifelong possessions soaked into oblivion.  Both of my parents homes, as well as my Grandmother's old home my sister Suzie lived in with her roommate were completely destroyed in one night.  I forced my Mom to evacuate on Sunday the 28th, but my stubborn Dad stayed in his home and witnessed it all.  He certainly has a lot of stories to tell.  After the storm, I had trouble getting in touch with him, so in fear of his life, Adrien, my Mom and I drove down to Howard Beach to find him.  On our way there, we found complete devastation--roads blocked from cars and boats scattered everywhere, massive trees uprooted, and thick, polluted mud everywhere.  We parked the car near my Dad's house, and just as we were getting out of the car, we saw my Dad coming down the street!  It's incredible how strong the feeling of seeing someone you love, seemingly unharmed, after fearing the worst.  I was so grateful in that moment that he was alive.  After a long, emotional hug, I asked how he was, and then he told me he's ok, but everything is gone.  He had two used mini-vans, one he bought just two months ago, that were submerged and won't start, despite his best efforts as a talented mechanic.  His boat floated into the yard, and is now a new lawn ornament, all of his tools are now rusting away, and the electric tools and machines are destroyed, I could go on...  Then Adrien, my Mom and I went to her house.  My Mom's first thought was that it may have floated away, since it's on beams directly on the water.  She gasped in relief when she saw it was still there.  We walked to what was the front staircase, but it floated into the yard, and there was no way to get into the house.  Adrien and I stacked cinder blocks in order to get into the house.  When we unlocked the door, we had to force it open because it was completely blocked by items that floated against the door.  Once we got in, everything had a terrible smell from the polluted water, the refrigerator was flipped on its side, and everything was soaked.  It was so hard to see this, then to see how my Mom reacted to witnessing all of her possessions gone.  We left the house to look at my Grandmother's house.  Again, another experience of shock and loss.  The deck to get into the house was totally warped, and when we got inside, we saw the same--refrigerator down, furniture scattered everywhere, a soaked mess...  Besides moving some furniture away and clearing the space, we didn't do that much work, since we were all in shock.  We brought my Mom back to Brooklyn, and I soon found out she doesn't have insurance, because she couldn't afford it.  She has been retired for years, since she was my Grandmother's primary caretaker, so income has been low for her for a while.  She is a very prideful person, and doesn't like asking for help, which is why I'm starting this donation page.  Although we've been calling FEMA several times as day to find out when they will inspect the homes, we are still waiting.  I've also been trying to contact the Red Cross, and find it impossible.  They are nowhere to be found in Howard Beach, which seems to be neglected by the media and other big organizations.  I've been renting Zipcar's to get to Howard Beach, and I've been buying supplies myself that my Dad needs.  But since I haven't been working at all myself because of the power outages, I have to start budgeting.  Besides basic needs, including new clothes for my Mom, food and water for both of my parents, we are going to need a new water heater as well as the installation cost, which is roughly $500, new flooring, which may cost up to $800, new refrigerators, $900 for two, new stoves, $700 for two, and my Dad needs about $2000 to buy a used minivan.  There's so much work that needs to be done in their homes, and since the water is so polluted, we'll have to replace everything... But I figure this donation goal is a start at helping my parents begin to rebuild. Please help me with this effort, and if you can't donate money, we will need other supplies and also volunteer work in cleaning up and rebuilding.  If you have a minivan you're looking to sell or donate, that will save a lot of money too.  Please contact me if you're interested in coming to Howard Beach and helping out!

Donations (0)

  • Duane BC 
    • $100 
    • 80 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $50 
    • 81 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $25 
    • 81 mos
  • Jieni Gu 
    • $50 
    • 81 mos
  • Michael Goldfeder 
    • $10 
    • 82 mos

Organizer 

Barb Ehlers 
Organizer
Howard Beach, NY
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