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LI help for Irma pours in amid struggle to get supplies to Florida

Food and supplies by the tons donated by

Food and supplies by the tons donated by Long Islanders sit in a Suffolk warehouse for delivery to Hurricane Harvey victims and those in Florida hit hard by Hurricane Irma, officials said on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017. Credit: Island Harvest

Food and supplies by the tons — donated for victims of Gulf Coast hurricanes Harvey and Irma — sit in Suffolk warehouses with delivery set for later this week to storm-ravaged Georgia, Louisiana and Texas, but a less certain date for Florida, a food bank official said.

The donations — including water and canned foods — quickly filled the warehouses, one of which is 20,000-square-feet, said Randi Shubin Dresner, president and chief executive of Island Harvest, a food bank based in Hauppauge.

“It’s jammed packed in here,” she said Tuesday.

The donations are the latest effort by Long Islanders — residents, relatives of victims, and private and public energy companies among others — to assist those in Florida hit hard by Irma, as well as victims in the Gulf Coast states still drying out after Harvey’s historic floods.

PSEG Long Island, National Grid and the Plainview-based Haugland Energy Group have each sent work crews to Florida to assist with restoring power to millions. National Grid said the utility sent 300 workers to assist crews from Duke Energy Florida and Tampa Electric.

“The task ahead will not be easy,” said Dean Seavers, president of National Grid, in a statement. “The complexity of power restoration after a catastrophic storm requires significant logistical expertise, along with skilled line workers and specialized equipment.”

Gregory Redmond, 61, of Shirley, a senior general foreman for Haugland Energy, and his two sons were among the workers sent to Florida.

He and his sons, Ronald Redmond, 38, of Shirley, and Charles Redmond, 33, of Smithtown, arrived in Daytona, Florida, last week. Gregory Redmond remained there waiting for work orders. His sons were among 180 journey linemen — workers often sent away from Long Island to help in weather-related emergencies — dispatched Monday to the Miami area to bring back electricity.

“I heard that it could take up to eight weeks to get power back on,” Gregory Redmond said in a phone interview.

While hundreds of Long Island crews worked on getting Floridians’ power back, Dresner was focused on getting Irma victims much-needed food and supplies.

A number of food banks in Florida are temporarily closed because the facilities have no power, accounting for the delivery delay, she said.

Once the food banks are up and running, loaded trucks will leave Long Island although it’s not too late to donate, Dresner said.

Goods, including cleaning supplies and personal care items, are welcomed, but Dresner said the most effective way to help is to donate cash.

“Food banks in devastated areas know what they need, and they can use the money to buy them at a deep discount,” she said.

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