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Katrina survivors help Sandy victims in Mastic Beach

Deshan Joseph of New Orleans puts out pails

Deshan Joseph of New Orleans puts out pails filled with cleaning supplies for area residents affected by Sandy during a giveaway at Osprey Park in Mastic Beach. Joseph, a Hurricane Katrina survivor, helped collect and transport the supplies as well as clothing, toys and other items from Louisiana. (Nov. 18, 2012) Credit: Randee Daddona

When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans seven years ago, Jessica Cappiello's entire neighborhood got flooded and she lost her art studio.

Her business partner, De-shan Joseph, lost his roof and his house was looted. But the two said they felt lucky compared with what other people went through.

So when Cappiello, whose parents live in Mastic Beach, and Joseph watched from afar as superstorm Sandy devastated wide swaths of the East Coast, it all seemed too familiar.

"We know what it's like when a whole town gets destroyed," Cappiello said.

They collected $6,000 worth of clothes, cleaning supplies, toys and other items, rented a truck and drove from New Orleans to Mastic Beach, where they arrived Sunday morning.

They joined Mastic Beach residents at a donation event in Osprey Park called New Orleans Gives Back.

Along with residents and their friend, New York City activist and journalist Andy Kopsa, they walked door-to-door in the battered town to give out the much-needed items they had collected.

The remaining items were given to the Cultural Arts Guild of Mastic Beach, a local nonprofit organization. The guild will donate the rest of the items, Cappiello said.

Suffolk County Legis. Kate Browning, who attended the event Sunday, said she was "overwhelmed" by the group's generosity.

As of last week, officials said that more than 200 Mastic Beach homes were still not approved for habitation.

"Now that the waters have receded, a residual oily sludge has caused many homes to be condemned and have left their owners with nothing," Browning said in a Thursday news release.

Kopsa has also started an online project,, to connect Sandy and Katrina victims as a way to give comfort to those on the East Coast hit hard by last month's storm.

Joann Nix, a Mastic Beach resident, said the group made her see that despite all the national attention to the storm's damage in New York City, Long Island has not been forgotten.

Nix went out to Osprey Park Sunday to get some toys and clothes for her children.

After her house was flooded with water, sewage and oil during the storm three weeks ago, Nix said she lost toys, kitchen supplies, furniture and a car. She has since returned to her home, Nix said.

Barbara Parisi, a Mastic Beach resident since 1969, went to Osprey Park Sunday to thank the group.

"I can't believe they drove all the way here to help," she said. "They're paying it forward. It's just wonderful."

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