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The East Shore disaster and church response in Staten Island

Update Sat: Gather at the end of New Dorp Lane and Cedar Grove Avenue on Saturday 11/3 at 9 a.m. Volunteers will be dispatched from there. Volunteers should bring what tools they can — rakes, shovels, push brooms — and work gloves

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Cedar Grove Avenue, East Shore, Staten Island

East Shore of Staten Island & Hurricane Sandy. Click "i" for further information.

East Shore of Staten Island was hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy.

[img src=]4010Several church recovery efforts are taking place in the New Dorp area.
[img src=]680Midland Beach was called Woodland Beach when it served as a prime vacation spot for New Yorkers in the early 20th Century.
[img src=]490New Dorp beach in happier times.
[img src=]500Staten Island pastors.
[img src=]510Muslims doing Ramadan prayers in August 2012 on New Dorp beach.
[img src=]560Mill Road
[img src=]440Fox Lane
[img src=]400Cars were tossed out of their garages against trees and houses.
[img src=]380Maple Terrace & Cedar Grove Avenue
[img src=]340Cedar Grove Avenue
[img src=]420The defaced front of the old St. George Malankara Orthodox Church of India
[img src=]380Pastor Danny Delgado of Third Day Missions organized a tractor load of recovery supplies to be distributed at Christian Pentecostal Church.
[img src=]300A Salvation Army feeder.

The magnitude of the disaster on the East Shore of Staten Island stayed hidden behind the darkness that had set upon Manhattan. Then, the rest of the city took notice. Mayor Bloomberg first visited the borough, and yesterday U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand visited. They got an earful of complaints about city, state and federal governments' ignorance of the magnitude of the suffering in Staten Island. Local Christian groups are also trying to catch the attention of people with resources.

This morning, a group led by Rev Steven J. Martino of Movement Church will give help to beleaguered fellow  Staten Islanders. They are asking that volunteers meet at Marine Way and Hett in New Dorp/Midland Beach area at 10am. They also need tables for clothes and food. Martino asks, "Please pass word around." For more information call 718-812-9894. His church is at 1535 Victory Boulevard, and their recovery staging area is at 76 Marine Way at New Dorp Beach.

Over the next couple of weeks, Rev Martino says, “We need clean up crews, hot food, blankets, clothes, generators and pumps. We need rakes, shovels, garbage bags, rubber gloves, and water.”

The variety of needs reflects the thorough-going nature of Hurricane Sandy’s plastering of the East Shore. The area looks straight out to the ocean and caught the full force of the hurricane in its face.

The waters came fast over the beaches of East Staten Island. Local residents at places like Midland Beach, New Dorp, and Tottenham were shocked when they looked out the window to see the water as it first rose over toys, then started floating cars and finally came rushing into their houses. One man in Midland Beach scrambled with his cats into the attic. He watch as the water rose nine feet in his home.

In some places in New Dorp the water rose to fourteen feet, according to some. Cars floated out of garages and were thrown against fences and houses. A man and his son swam between the fast moving debris for a street sign on which to hold; finally, they were able to get to the roof of a house. Around Turns Lane and Mill Road in New Dorp, many people hung onto their roofs for a miserable and frightening night. After the storm died down, helicopters rescued people from the roofs in this community.

Some died. Just north of New Dorp a father and son were buried in debris. A crippled man couldn’t rise from his bed, and it appears he drowned where he lay.

The community was a happy community before the storm. It was a mixture of middle and working classes, many retirees enjoying modest homes on or near the beach, new immigrants getting their start like those from India and other South Asian countries. There had not been serious flooding since 1992; most residents had forgotten or did not know about previous flooding. Many ignored warnings to evacuate the area. Some wanted to stay with their homes to protect their retirement property for their golden years or were immigrants keeping their foothold in the ladder to the American dream.

Now, it is a nightmare. Deaths (about half of Hurricane Sandy deaths in New York City happened in Staten Island), injuries, total destruction of uncounted homes and untraceable memories floated out to sea. A common lament from residents is that they don’t have any clothes other than those on their back. The nation and city were slow to get out to Staten Island. Now, the fuel is so scarce that church volunteers have a hard time getting out to the area.

Courtesy of Los Angeles Times

Pastor David Beidel, whose New Hope Community Church in the northern part of Staten Island did not suffer hurricane damage, observed that Staten Island had over 100,000 people without power and perhaps several thousand homes wrecked. “We have never had this kind of crisis,” the pastor told A Journey last night. Tens of thousands of people were stripped of power, light, clothes, shelter and food. “It pushed us into a primitive style of life.”

Some churches in the area were brutally treated. Oasis Christian Center in Midland Beach was engulfed by water. Rev Tim McIntyre says that the church still stands but needs sheet rock and a building crew. A small church on Olympia Boulevard was heavily damaged. Both the old church building and the new church building of St. George Malankara Orthodox Church of India were damaged. The old building took it in the face from the brunt of a gigantic surge of the ocean which it overlooked. Their brand new church, which is a fair distance from the ocean, was surrounded by water. Facing the full fury of the ocean the people of the eastern beach communities of Staten Island thought that they could count on the city government and official relief agencies to back them up. The officials were slow to come. Residents claim that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Red Cross were among the last of the recovery groups to arrive.

The biggest protests against the city’s relief efforts have come from residents of this area. They feel like Staten Island was forgotten. But groups are mobilizing.

Convoy of Hope, a specialist in providing relief and food supplies, brought a tractor trailer of goods to Christian Pentecostal Church who’s pastor is John Carlo (718-273-5850). The effort was organized by Rev. Danny Delgado of Third Day Mission. Supporting organizations included the New York State Chaplains Task Force and the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.

Delgado says that he hopes that two more truckloads can quickly be brought. He is asking for volunteers and a variety of recovery materials. He can be contacted at: 718-702-2078 or

Yesterday, Cardinal Timothy Dolan surveyed the damage along the East Shore and South Staten Island. He consoled families that lost people in the hurricane, encouraged firefighters, and praised the food and clothing distribution being done by a Catholic congregation in Tottenville.

The Salvation Army is working with the National Guard and Red Cross to distribute food and water.  The Army has set up two feeding centers:

Staten Island:

• Parking Lot – corner of Mill Road & New Dorp Lane

• Empty Lot – corner of Yetman and Ylon Boulevard

UPI reported this morning, “The New York Baptist convention's kitchen was on its way to Staten Island -- Staten Island is a high priority -- where volunteers will begin serving meals Friday," said Eddie Blackmon, response coordinator of the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief -- North American Mission Board.

Area response commander Mark Gauthier, mobilization director for the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia, said the next wave is on the road now from Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and South Carolina.

"They will be serving meals on Saturday. Then units will arrive ready to cook on Sunday. Another group will be ready to serve on Monday," Gauthier said told UPI. The Baptist chefs expect their kitchens will be able to cook 400,000 meals a day for New Yorkers and others.

AmeriCares is deploying a mobile medical clinic today to Beacon Christian Community Health Center in Staten Island to allow it to continue treating patients despite the loss of power. The 40-foot bus is stocked with medicines and supplies and has two private exam rooms for patient consultations.

Friday, 7pm, Sat 9am: Reformed Church, 54 Port Richmond Ave.,  will let you charge phones and is also providing baby formula and hot food.

List of other Salvation Army food distribution sites

The following is a list of other food distribution centers being set up by The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services. They will be open from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

• Rockaways: Conch Playground – 51st Street & Rockaway Beach Boulevard; Hammel Playground – 84th Street & Rockaway Beach Boulevard; Red Fern House Playground – Redfern Avenue & Beach 12th Street
• Astoria: Hallets Cove – Vernon Blvd & 30th Road

• Coney Island: Surf Island Playground – West 25th Street & Surf Avenue
• Red Hook: Coffey Park – 85 Richards Street

• Chelsea: Chelsea Park – West 27th Street, between 9th & 10th Avenues
• Lower East Side: Vladic Playground – East 10th Street, between C & D Avenues; Al Smith Playground – Catherine Street, between Cherry & Monroe Streets; Hamilton Fish – Pitt Street & East Houston Street
• Other: Grand Street Settlement Houses – 413 Grand Street; Confucius Plaza on Division Street

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  • Thanks to A Journey through NYC Religions, which was founded in 2010, for this update. Religious, indeed Christian, engagement with society and culture at every level and every domain, thereby demonstrating what it means to be the Body of Christ to everyone.

    After reading Journey's report, click around the website and learn more about what they are doing.

  • I have found a number of reports about the disaster created by Hurricane Sandy this morning. This one is poignant. The need for volunteers is great, but the question is how to get them there to help, given all the transportation and related problems. Thanks to A Journey for yet another wide ranging report from their work on religion and life in New York City.

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