Woodhaven civic group steps up to help storm victims

Photo courtesy Woodhaven Residents Block Association
By Steve Mosco

When Mother Nature hit Queens with a devastating blow, residents banded together to heal the many wounds.

The Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association stepped up to the plate once again for the victims of Hurricane Sandy while continuing to support those who remain in its wake.

The civic group hosted a flashlight vigil Friday and then donated the flashlights to the storm’s survivors. The vigil was held at Jamaica Avenue and Forest Parkway at the foot of a large evergreen tree that perished in the storm.

Prior to the flashlight vigil, WRBA spent time collecting clothing for distribution in affected communities.

The Block Association said it was astounded by the tremendous generosity displayed by inhabitants following Hurricane Sandy’s destructive path.

“The generosity of Woodhaven and of our friends has been overwhelming,” said WRBA President Ed Wendell. “In the face of a disaster that devastated our neighbors, our community stepped up in a huge way to help out those in need. A lot of people are hurting right now, but the community spirit we’ve seen over the past week leaves no doubt that south Queens will be back better than ever.”

Due to donations, the block association raised thousands of dollars as well as 50 carloads of clothes, food, water and other supplies. In addition, volunteers contributed numerous hours to sort, pack and transport the donations — which were delivered to Howard Beach, Broad Channel, Breezy Point and other neighborhoods south of Woodhaven that were hit hard by the superstorm.

People from across Woodhaven contributed to the cause, and donors from far out of state shipped supplies or donated money even though gasoline was in short supply, according to Wendell.

“Residents sprang into action,” he said. “Using their remaining gas to make sure supplies reached those in need.”

The WRBA collaborated with an array of organizations and offices to maximize their efforts, including those of the Glendale Civilian Observation Patrol, the West Hamilton Beach Volunteer Fire Department, the Hamilton Beach Civic Association, the Woodhaven Business Improvement District, Queens Tabernacle and the Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Volunteer Ambulance Corps, state Assemblymen Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven) and Phil Goldfeder (D-Ozone Park), state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) and City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village).

“Hurricane Sandy caused unprecedented damage to thousands of homes throughout the city, but as always New Yorkers are coming together to help those in need,” Crowley said.

Martin Colberg, a WRBA board member, said the block association wanted to help because it considers those affected the most by Sandy’s wrath neighbors.

“This was a huge team effort,” he said. “Those who are without heat or electricity, those who lost their belongings or their homes — those are our neighbors, and it was wonderful to see how many people in Woodhaven and from all around are doing everything they can to help their neighbors.”

Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at smosco@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

More from Around New York