As Hurricane Harvey unfolded last weekend, the images coming out of Texas were a little too familiar for the Kramer family.
“I was sitting at my kitchen table drinking coffee and looking at my TV in horror,” said Tim Kramer, 50, a Long Beach resident and superstorm Sandy victim. “I said ‘I’m going to do something about this.’”
On Monday, Kramer and his wife Christina Tisi-Kramer started what they thought would be a small collection drive for supplies for Harvey victims. But in less than a week, their Long Beach community had rallied to fill five tractor-trailers with goods.
The Kramers and an army of volunteers spent Friday night and Saturday morning boxing up toiletries, trash bags, gift cards, diapers, cleaning supplies, nonperishable food and other items that had overtaken St. Mary of the Isle church in Long Beach. The goods were loaded onto tractor-trailers bound for Texas.
The Kramers are familiar with what it takes to rebuild. During Sandy, Tisi-Kramer, a photographer, documented the aftermath of flooding in their neighborhood and home.
“After Sandy, we knew there were so many donations that came into Long Beach but we didn’t receive any of that,” Tisi-Kramer, 42, said. “We decided to start a collection on our own so we can make sure these people get what we intended.”
The Kramers are among the dozens of other Long Island groups that have mobilized to provide aid to the hardest-hit areas of Texas.
The idea to send a truck was Tim Kramer’s, though his wife said she worried how they could afford a truck or even fill one.
But by Wednesday, it was clear they’d need a second truck.
Their list of supplies for Harvey victims included the supplies their community had needed: toilet paper, demolition tools and trash bags. Their fellow Sandy survivors in Long Beach were happy to pitch in.
Tim Kramer’s Facebook post received more than 300 shares. Their online fundraiser for the cost of the first truck raised $6,000 in just six hours. All week, people lined up around the block with donations at St. Mary’s, the Kramer’s designated drop-off location, while many others worked to sort and pack the donations for a Saturday departure.
“The community outreach has been overwhelming,” Kramer said.
Kramer said the trucks, which numbered five by Saturday, are bound for two Houston locations, the YWCA and St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Church.
At the Houston YWCA, donations are badly needed, said Allison Booker-Brooks, center director. Their senior assistance programs, including Meals on Wheels, serve more than 2,000 seniors, many of them homebound.
The Long Beach donation is expected to arrive Tuesday, Booker-Brooks said, and it represents the largest donation they’ve received yet.
“We knew we had hell on our hands,” she said. “You need a massive amount of stuff. We’re really excited because that’s going to put a big dent in what we need to get done.”