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Expressway: Sandy victims retain dignity in hardship

Red Cross Disaster Relief volunteers distribute hot food

Red Cross Disaster Relief volunteers distribute hot food to families affected by Superstorm Sandy at Cedar Creek Park in Seaford. (Nov. 1, 2012) Photo Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

The Cedar Creek Park I'm used to is alive, bustling with activity. I see it on long summertime runs to Jones Beach. Colorful banners signal family reunions. Cheers and clapping resonate from Little League baseball games. Boys perform daredevil stunts on skateboards. Ice-cream truck bells hypnotically draw crowds of children.

But on Saturday, Nov. 10, I saw a very different Cedar Creek Park as I joined the American Red Cross in its service to victims of superstorm Sandy.

The jocularity and leisure that define this Seaford park were blurred and distant memories. On this day, it was cloaked in somber tones. Scattered tents stocked with blankets and hot meals populated the landscape. Exhausted, homeless individuals, their lives ravaged, stood patiently in lines for food and other items.

These were innocent victims of Mother Nature's vengeance, who back on Oct. 29 were caught in a storm characterized by massive destruction. Yet, now they exhibited resilience and remarkable strength.

"Thank you," so many of them said as I distributed food and water, "but is there enough for others?"

This sincere gratitude and genuine concern for their neighbors left me in awe.

At nightfall, I was approached by a woman wrapped in a down comforter, one of the few items salvaged from her home. She watched me hand a shivering girl a cotton blanket. She interceded and offered the girl her comforter.

"I'll take the cotton blanket," the woman said to me. "She needs the comforter more than I do."

As I left the park that night, I realized this: The devastation wielded by Sandy was indeed horrific, but for sure the superstorm failed to destroy the compassion, tenacity and fortitude of its victims. God bless them.

Reader Patricia Rossi lives in North Merrick.


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