Bay Ridge helping homeless hurricane victims

November 29, 2012 Paula Katinas The Daily Eagle
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Residents of Staten Island, the Rockaways, and Breezy Point who lost their homes to the destructive forces of Hurricane Sandy are finding sympathy and support from people in Bay Ridge, according to neighborhood officials and leaders at local religious institutions.


Displaced families are flocking to Bay Ridge, seeking to buy homes or rent apartments, officials said.


Catholic schools in Bay Ridge, including Saint Patrick’s School on Fourth Avenue and 97th Street, have taken in dozens of youngsters from storm-ravaged areas of the city and are holding drives to collect school supplies and clothing for the children.


“We have 50 children at our school. We’re trying to make them as comfortable as possible. They’ve been through an ordeal,” Ann Strafaci, director of development for Saint Patrick’s Catholic Church, recently told a reporter.


The youngsters are staying temporarily with local families.


Teachers and staff members are striving to provide practical assistance as well as emotional support to the children, many of whom are in shock over what happened to them, Strafaci said. In one case, a teacher stepped in to help a little boy who missed a familiar item from home. The boy was upset that a picture book he owned about whales was lost amid the debris in his family’s house. “The teacher ran out to a book store and bought the book for him,” Strafaci said.


The church and school asked parishioners to donate gift cards to allow the displaced families to purchase things they need for the children, Strafaci said.


Josephine Beckmann, district manager of Community Board 10, said she has been approached by hurricane victims looking for help. “The office also has several visits and calls from residents from Breezy Point, Staten Island and the Rockaways seeking housing assistance,” she told the board at its Nov. 19 meeting. “As many of you know many students have been relocated to area schools both public and private,” she said.


Bay Ridge was spared any major damage in the Oct. 29 super-storm, Beckmann said. “Overall, we were very fortunate. There are no areas within Community Board 10 that are located within the A Mandatory Evacuation Zone,” she said.


But the community did not escape Sandy altogether. “Our coastline along Shore Road is located within a B Zone and sustained damages during the storm,” Beckmann said. “The storm surge caused extensive reaches along the Shore Road Promenade,” Beckmann said.


Beckmann and Dorothy Garuccio, the board’s community coordinator, conducted an inspection tour of the Shore Road bicycle path in the immediate aftermath of the storm. They discovered “significant soil erosion, a large breach along 14th Avenue and rock formations disturbed at around 95th Street,” Beckmann said.


Beckmann said the city’s Parks Department did an excellent job of clearing out fallen trees in parks and on streets. “I do not have a final number of trees that were down within Community District 10 but we had 38 calls to the district office relating to downed or leaning street trees. There were several trees that came down in Owls Head Park, Shore Road Park and McKinley Park,” she said.

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