In the December 7 issue of Soundview Rising
A month ago Hurricane Sandy hit the area. It was like no other catastrophe to strike in generations. New York State according to reports (New York Post, November) will be asking for about $40 billion in aid from the Federal government. The number of lives lost was less than from the Katrina or Hurricane Rita storms. But the number of housing units needing replacement or repairs exceeded three hundred thousand, almost 100,000 more than Katrina's or Rita's damage in Louisiana.
While politicians squabble over funding, Habitat for Humanity saw the people's devastation and hit the ground running. Jim Killoran, Executive Director of Westchester's Habitat of Humanity, has extensive experience in rebuilding homes and buildings to bring hope to people. In 2007 when the floods devastated Mamaroneck, his organization brought hope and help to these homeowners whose homes needed gutting and deconstructing, mold removal, sheet rocking and rebuilding. As a result Killoran's reputation for assisting those in need has continued to grow.
After helping with tree removal in the Westchester area, Killoran, nicknamed "killer," was contacted by a friend in the Rockaways with the plea, "You have got to get over here, we need your group." After arriving in the devastated area with twenty pumps and a generator, Killoran found the drama was just beginning. As he pumped out a home that night, vehicles began to get stuck on the street and in the sand: first the ambulance and the next day, the dump truck. It's been said, no good deed goes unpunished, Killoran found he had to stay overnight in the cold. Even now, a month later, people in this area have not had their homes restored.
Moving onto Breezy Point he brought l00 boxes of contractor bags, some of which were donated by New Rochelle's Modern Hardware store. Day and night Habitat for Humanity went to Home Depot to purchase thousands of dollars of needed supplies. At Breezy Point Habitat for Humanity was asked to set up a Command Center for their needed work. Almost as if an apocalypse had hit, hundreds have come for help. More than 200 homes have been gutted in Breezy Point, Roxbury and Far Rockaway. Who knows how many lives were spared because of these efforts?
There is hope for the devastation even for Sandy which was worse that Katrina. Habitat for Humanity has thousands of volunteers who helped. The Peekskill Fire Department, the AOH of of Rockland, Pleasantville High School, New Rochelle families like the Vernis and Burkes, and the Hartmanns, Murphy Brothers construction, Marist College, Adelphi, Iona Prep, Iona students, so many of Habitat's friends from Israel, volunteers from Yonkers and Rye Brook and many more all helped.
Saturday December 1, 2012 was an amazing game changing day in the history of Habitat for Humanity and the people of New York when 350 \volunteers go to help these people. Monday December 3 followed with 200 volunteers who came to do sheet work in the Rockaways.
The need for volunteers is great and Killoran asks anyone who can help to contact his organization by emailing [email protected] if they want to volunteer or help or bring a group. Donations may be made online to habitatwc.org, checks made to Habitat for Humanity of Westchester and writing on the memo "Sandy relief.'
While Westchester residents have always responded to help others, Killoran would like to make this cause "our proudest moment for Westchester residents and all New Yorkers to respond."