SOMERS, N.Y.— Somers Volunteer Fire Department member Paul Faust was perfectly positioned to help the town of Somers follow through on its efforts to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy.
In collaboration with friend Eric Zohar and with help from a host of other volunteers, Faust, who is also the founder of emergency disaster kit company 1-800-PREPARE, has organized three runs to three different firehouses since the Oct. 29 storm: one in Rockaway, N.Y.; one in Plainview, Long Island; and on Nov. 10, one in Breezy Point, an especially devastated section of Queens.
“I’ve never seen anything like it except for images from maybe Hiroshima or when the Nazis bombed,” said Faust. “You can’t fathom it: an entire group of blocks just gone. And this is where people live. This is their lives.”
Faust, Zohar and a crew of citizens and volunteer fire fighters collected materials on Nov. 10 at the Somers Eye Center and, with a fully loaded commercial truck, van and Ford Excursion, drove down to Rockaway Point Volunteer Fire Department in Breezy Point. The trucks contained shovels, cleaning supplies and mops, as well as flashlights, batteries, nonperishable food and juice boxes, dog and cat food and baby items.
Rockaway Point had received a new fire engine from another department in the state, but still needed new fire equipment, so Faust brought down axes, poles and work gloves as well. Breezy Point is a neighborhood where many police, first responders, firefighters and EMS workers live. Any family in the community was invited to stop by the firehouse and get their cars loaded up with whatever they needed.
"We don’t just want to give them immediate relief but to let them know that here are people up here that care,” said Faust, who in the past has worked for the Chappaqua and Larchmont Volunteer fire departments. “I’m not one to just sit around and watch.”
“You really can’t put your brain around the devastation," said Faust. Close to 100 homes were destroyed by a fire that engulfed the neighborhood on Oct. 29, in addition to damage caused by massive flooding. “It was an entire community that was wiped out by fire, and a lot of the firefighters were trying to battle this fire in their own homes,” he said.
Faust said he is in constant communication with the Rockaway Point department to keep on top of the community's immediate needs. There have been many requests from residents to do another drive, Faust said. He is currently starting a holiday gift-card drive for residents of the area.