Monday, April 22, 2013
After the sorrowful events of this past week, I was blessed today by the opportunity to see major corporations and everyday people working hand in hand to improve this little corner of the earth.
Long Beach, NY was one of the communities most heavily damaged by Superstorm Sandy. Even today, 5 1/2 months after the storm, over a third of our residents have yet to return. Houses must be raised from ground level to a minimum of 8
feet above. No living areas will be permitted at ground level. It may be used for garage and storage space or workshop, but however it is used, raising a house is an expensive proposition. Insurance carriers have been slow to make reimbursements and banks
even slower to forward the funds to homeowners. Many people just do not have the wherewithal to advance the type of money necessary, so it becomes a Catch 22 for them.
Today, however, in celebration of Earth Day, Home Depot, Viacom, Starbucks, the NY Islanders NHL team, JetBlue, and many local and regional businesses donated materials and employees to help the residents bring back our "City by the Sea."
They cleaned up sand that still seems to be everywhere, built raised beds and planted flowers in fresh soil, sent teams in wet suits to clean debris out of the canals that line our north shore, helped homeowners make the front of their property a place of
pride. It seemed as if everyone was involved, from the local scouts and elementary classes to teams from nearby colleges and neighbors who formed teams to ensure whole blocks were attended, not just the houses with inhabitants, so young couples with small
children were working next to senior citizens.
Now, just as an army runs on its stomach, volunteers must feel appreciated. What better way than by offering them something to eat and drinks to keep them hydrated. Since there were four areas of intense concentration somewhat distant
from each other, there were different "feeding stations" for lack of a better name. Folks working in the west end were fed by a BBQ restaurant, run by the most civic minded couple I have ever met, who also happen to serve excellent food. The folks working
in the center of town were treated to pizzas supplied by our city manager in conjunction with our oldest pizzaria. East end and canals workers were fed at our soup kitchen courtesy of our smaller, family owned supermarket and a local deli and restaurant.
We offered 6 ft heros, cold salads, coffee, tea, soda, and water. And we will all be back tomorrow to do it again.
Once again, I have been humbled by the willingness of total strangers, with no personal connection to Long Beach, to give up their time and money to help us get back as close to normal as possible. I have also had my eyes opened to the
generosity of Home Depot. They have been a presence here since the storm with truckloads of donated materials and staff who know how to use them. And as long as I'm sounding like their PR man, I might add, they are not even a Long Beach business. Their
nearest store is located in another town that was as badly damaged. They have done the same for the other town.
So celebrate Earth Day. Plant a flower or vegetable, even if it is in a pot for your window. Pick up a bit of trash you may see on the ground, it won't kill you. Be mindful how you use water. Try to minimize your carbon footprint.
We only have one earth.