Long Islanders with memories of the out-of-state volunteers who helped the region recover from superstorm Sandy in 2012 are in the Carolinas assisting victims of Hurricane Florence and in New York collecting donations and preparing to accept dozens of evacuated animals.
Thirty-two members of the Westhampton Beach-based 106th Rescue Wing of the New York Air National Guard left the Island on Saturday morning to assist in search-and-rescue and other operations, joining 80 others who left earlier.
Neela Lockel, CEO of the American Red Cross of Long Island, is in Greenville, N.C., helping local Red Cross officials assess needs and determine how best to deploy Red Cross resources for shelters, meals and other services.
“We work really closely with the local chapters,” Lockel said. “They’re the ones who know the communities they serve.”
There are about 2,200 Red Cross employees and volunteers — including about 15 to 20 Long Islanders — who traveled to the Southeast to help with hurricane relief, just as Red Cross disaster workers traveled to Long Island after Sandy, Lockel said.
“Thousands of Red Cross volunteers from across the country came out to help us and we will never, ever forget that,” she said.
Debbie Hayden, 50, a Red Cross nurse from Garden City, has been working in shelters in the Raleigh-Durham area since Wednesday, helping coordinate care and ensuring the shelters are accessible to people with disabilities.
She and other nurses also have been helping injured residents, such as the man who came to the shelter Saturday morning with scrapes suffered while getting out of a house damaged by a fallen tree.
The Air National Guard members were deployed to Norfolk, Virginia, where they travel to where they are needed, said Colin Brennan, a spokesman for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. They include search-and-rescue personnel as well as emergency medical technicians and mechanics, he said.
Two rescue aircraft and four inflatable rescue boats also were sent from the 106th.
The Animal Rescue Fund, or ARF, of the Hamptons is preparing to send vans to the hurricane zone to bring back dogs evacuated from a coastal shelter, said Scott Howe, ARF’s executive director and CEO. There are 25 dogs waiting to be brought to its East Hampton shelter for adoption, but, Howe said, “this is just a start,” and he expects ARF to take in more animals.
“It looks like shelters are going to be needing to get animals out for several days coming,” he said.
ARF’s last big rescue operation was transporting about 200 animals from Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria last year.
The dogs being sent to Long Island make room in the Carolina shelters for animals who are separated from their owners during the storm, Howe added.
Adopting dogs now at ARF’s shelter creates more room for animals coming from the shelters in the Carolinas which, unlike ARF, euthanize some animals that aren’t adopted, he said.
“We can’t rescue more dogs unless people are adopting,” Howe said.
On Long Island, the Town of Hempstead is accepting donations of bottled water, work gloves, towels, blankets, first-aid kits and other items at three parks this weekend, said county spokesman Mike Fricchione. Items can be dropped off at the administration buildings of Newbridge Road Park in Bellmore, Oceanside Park in Oceanside and Echo Park in West Hempstead from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day.
During the week, there are collection points at Town Hall, 1 Washington St., and the town office building at 200 N. Franklin St.
The Commack Fire Department, 6309 Jericho Tpke., is accepting donations of canned food, bottled water, baby food, personal hygiene products, toiletries, blankets, wipes and other items — but no clothes — 24 hours a day.