Somers Residents Bring Hurricane Relief To Breezy Point

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A group of volunteers from Somers helped Rockaway Point firefighters provide the Breezy Point community with relief and supplies after it was devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Photo Credit: Paul Faust
There was unbelievable destruction after Sandy in Breezy Point, a section of Queens. Photo Credit: Paul Faust
Somers resident Paul Faust and Rockaway fire chief Mike Valentine worked together to provide relief to the community. Photo Credit: Paul Faust

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.

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Uarestuck:

My son's BSA TROOP 45 Westchester Putnam council has donated to Hurricane relief , however we had leftovers at my house including little girl clothes. PLEASE can we stop by today and drop off the troops left overs?

pfaust13:

Thank you to the Daily Voice for covering this story and writing about our efforts. I just wanted to take a minute to give the credit where credit is due. This was not done by me. This was done by an army of volunteers and donors who stepped up and gave of their time, money and effort. I was just one piece of the pie.

This all started from one email and posting by Eric Zohar who along with Gina Arena refused to just sit by and watch the news, sounded the alarm, got the ball rolling and organized the efforts. I was fortunate enough to connect with Eric early and joined his effort for this great cause.

We did make 3 relief supply runs into different areas..the last one being to a Volunteer Fire Dept. (Rockaway Point Fire) in Breezy Point that was wiped out by the storm. We brought with us both regular supplies and also supplies specific to the needs of the fire dept. which lost all their gear.

It was amazing to me to see both the destruction and needs of these hard hit communities and the out pouring of support from the Somers Community. I feel lucky to live here if this is the kind of community we have...and I am glad we have leaders like Eric and Gina who will take the time and effort to put their lives on hold to motivate us all to help others.

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