Don’t stop believing

By Tammy Scileppi

When epic superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc on many communities here, folks barely knew what hit them. With the upcoming election the primary topic of conversation, nobody imagined that in a New York minute a 1,000-mile wide hybrid would change the very fabric of their lives — decimating almost everything in its path.

Nor did it seem possible that rising waters could actually flood Manhattan’s streets and the Battery Tunnel — like a scene from an apocalyptic movie.

Many of Sandy’s hardest-hit live in Queens’ coastal areas: The Rockaways, Breezy Point, Broad Channel and Howard Beach looked like WWII photos of destruction, taken after the Germans’ Blitzkrieg. Water, fire and wind obliterated and swept away homes and property; lives were shattered in Sandy’s wake.

In Middle Village, songwriter and actor Lori Martini was glued to her TV and the images unfolding were difficult to swallow. Her area suffered little damage and she had heat, electricity and food in the fridge while so many fellow New Yorkers were struggling to survive. The writer of the 2011 hit single “Believe” felt compelled to do something, so she volunteered.

“We went to state Sen. Joe Addabbo’s office in Howard Beach to drop off donations. There were tons of volunteers organizing everything,” Martini said. Tables were setup with toiletries, hygiene products, diapers, clothing and other necessities.

“I helped bring the donations, including tons of pizza and other food items to the office, so they could get distributed to Howard Beach, Broad Channel and Rockaway victims.”

Despite the gas shortage, several cars were packed full and transported supplies to shelters.

Martini worked alongside friend and former teacher Frank Kenna, who is now the chief deputy Queens County clerk in Forest Hills, Addabbo, and Edward Wendell, president of the Woodhaven Residents Block Association.

“It was overwhelmingly amazing how everyone came together,” she said. “I didn’t get a chance to speak with any of the people who had damage – lots of them were cleaning out their homes and throwing stuff onto the street.”

Martini says some of her friends lost entire homes in Valley Stream, Lindenhurst and on Staten Island. “They’re safe and getting help, but who knows what the long-term effects are. At some point they’ll need a home to go to when they can no longer stay with friends and family. I really hope FEMA does the right thing.”

A rabid New York Mets fan, Martini, 39, says she used to play softball on Staten Island every weekend but now, she said, those fields are all destroyed by Sandy.

She wrote “Believe” for her beloved Mets and it became the official 2011 rallying song played when Mets second baseman Justin Turner walked up to bat at Citi Field.

“As any Mets fan knows: ‘Ya gotta believe,’” she quipped.

The song was performed live at Citi Field, at the Mets vs. Phillies game on May 27, 2011, as part of a pre-game performance.

“Believe” was recently featured on Fox’s NFL pre-game morning show because fans always hold up signs saying “believe.” The New York Rangers used it as their promo.

Martini’s just-released music video, “I’m Not Perfect,” was featured on Lifetime’s “Dance Moms Miami.”

“I have a song that has been inspiring to so many young kids,” she said, “so I made a music video with the cast and other kids geared towards anti-bullying.”

“A lot of my songs are inspired by true events in my life,” she said.

Her song “Beautiful” is the promo trailer for USA Network’s “Necessary Roughness” and her “Never Let You Fall” instrumental was featured on NBC’s “The Voice” Season 2 Finale.

Martini also wrote, produced and had the lead role in a four-time award-winning short film, “Caught” — a family drama that parallels softball. It just screened at Manhattan’s Anthology Theater, as part of the New York New Filmmakers Festival.

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