By Janee Law
A group of Town of Huntington residents is heading south to aid victims of Hurricane Harvey, which made landfall in Texas as a Category 4 storm over the weekend. The trip is one of several local efforts to aid the thousands displaced by the storm.
Lloyd Harbor resident George Schwertl said he, his son George Schwertl Jr., of Port Jefferson; Casey McDonald, of Melville; Andre Sorrentino, of Huntington; and Richard McGuigan, of Northport; have banded together to collect relief supplies for those affected by Harvey. The group plans to drive several vehicles to Texas next week to deliver the supplies themselves. They are hoping to get five more people to join.
The team started collecting Tuesday and will be loading the donations into five rented sprinter vans on Friday for the 26-hour drive, Schwertl said.
The team is seeking nonperishable items, such as water, canned food, dry goods, baby products, blankets, wipes and dog, cat and horse food. Schwertl urges those interested in helping to donate dry goods, not money.
Donations can be dropped off at several fire departments, including Dix Hills, East Northport, Halesite, Huntington Manor and Northport; PAS Automotive in Huntington Village; Sal’s Auto Body in Smithtown, Superior Ice Rink in Kings Park; Cavalier Auto Body in Huntington Station; Schwertl Auto Body in Islandia. The deadline to donate is Sept. 7.
“I remember Sandy and it was devastating,” Schwertl said. “We’re just trying to help people. I would want someone to do the same for my family. This is something we can do to give back. We’re here to help.”
Schwertl said they are also receiving help from state Sen. Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore), who provided them with a list of shelters to visit in Texas.
Huntington-based Family Service League will also be taking part in relief efforts, according to Jonathan Chenkin, the nonprofit’s vice president of development. The organization is reaching out to constituents to make sure that if they have family or friends affected they can reach out to FSL for counseling.
Local Leads Crowdfunding Campaign For Friend Who Lost Home
Huntington-resident Susan Serra launched a GoFundMe campaign on Monday to raise funds for her business colleague, Lorenzo Marquez Trespalacios, and his family, who lost their Houston home to Hurricane Harvey.
Marquez Trespalacios, his wife and five small children, including a 3-month old, were rescued by boat and kayak on Sunday.
“This is a business colleague who I’ve known for a long time and I just felt an increasing sense of urgency to do something in some small way,” Serra said. “These are good people that I’ve come to know and that compelled me to act.”
The impact of the storm has been “mind blowing,” Serra said. “I think it’s hard for anyone both in and out of the area to really understand the impact on people’s entire lives being disrupted so dramatically and so quickly. It’s shocking and incomprehensible.”
The goal is to raise $100,000. As of deadline Wednesday, the GoFundMe page raised $45,000. Donations can be made at Gofundme.com/LorenzoMarquez-HarveyFund.
In a comment left on the page Tuesday, Marquez Trespalacios stated, “We lived the scariest moment of our lives, feeling helpless trying to leave our home without being able to carry our children out to safety.
“We will rebuild, we will get stronger and we will help others while we go through the process. God bless each and every one of you and all of the community in need. Thank you for your love and support from the bottom of our hearts.”
Congressman Sets Up Donation Boxes in Offices
Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) also began collecting donations on Tuesday to assist victims in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, with donation boxes set up at both his Huntington and Queens offices.
As of deadline Wednesday, Mike Florio, chief of staff for Suozzi, said the 478 Park Ave. office in Huntington has received 18 cases of water and have around six large boxes filled with supplies.
Suozzi is coordinating with the City of Long Beach, which has established a donation center for the next two weeks to collect items and experienced similar devastation after Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Items collected from Suozzi will be taken to the Long Beach Auxiliary Police Department & City of Long Beach Fire Department on Saturday.
“New Yorkers know firsthand the devastation a natural disaster can bring. Our neighbors in Texas are dealing with aftermath and destruction of Hurricane Harvey and we will be there for them,” Suozzi said. “This is what America and public service is all about. I will support the federal government doing whatever is needed to help our friends in Texas.”
Suozzi also announced that he will support any efforts by the federal government to provide federal aid to the people of Texas.
Suozzi will be collecting cleaning supplies, personal hygiene products, first aid supplies, gift cards, non-perishable food, baby products, flashlights, batteries, blankets, toilet paper, and more. The office will not accept cash or check donations.