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Monday, November 24, 2014

Help has arrived
Thousands of volunteers aid city’s rebuilding effort
Courtesy Vision Long Island
Michigan Street resident John McNally spoke at last week's Vision Long Island Smart Growth Summit.

When Michigan Street resident John McNally spoke in front of more than 500 people at Vision Long Island’s Smart growth Summit in Melville last Friday, his message was clear: Long Beach needs help.

“We need volunteers to help rip up our homes,” McNally said at the event. “Don’t send any more clothes, we need to get all the stuff out of Long Beach to those who need it. Streets are lined with garbage 15- to 20-feet tall … we need trucks to pick up garbage.”

With government officials and others in attendance McNally, an environmental program and communications officer for the Rauch Foundation, said his voice did not fall on deaf ears.

“My side was, here’s the personal plea and what we as residents of Long Beach are going through right now and here is why we need your help,” McNally said after the event. “This was a conference of developers and municipal planners and my big plea was to help us get the garbage out of here.”

City Manager Jack Schnirman also spoke at the event [See front page story], where he explained that the city lost its critical infrastructure during Hurricane Sandy.

“We’re basically destroyed,” Schnirman said. “Our city is in ruins.”

Still, Schnirman struck an optimistic cord, saying that power has been restored, schools have reopened and water services are functioning.

“We are in the midst of a rebuilding that is more uplifting than sad,” he said.

The volunteer effort last weekend was coordinated by the city, Humanity First and the Red Cross, among others. Several crews of volunteers worked in neighborhoods throughout the city, helping homeowners gut their basements and clear trash from streets.

“After the Vision Long Island event, it’s just been a flood of volunteers,” McNally added. “My guess is that there was a thousand people here over the weekend. It was an army — I was fighting back tears. You drove down Park Avenue and saw people picking up garbage. But even before that, two weekends ago, we were ripping out my house and all I had to do was post something on Facebook and 10 people showed up to help. The next thing I know, six other people in orange shirts who are good Samaritans who were just walking the streets and helped anyone who needed it.”

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