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A grass-roots movement in East Rockaway
One woman led effort to meet the needs of many after hurricane
Mary Malloy/Herald

When East Rockaway resident Elizabeth Daitz, the daughter of a firefighter, heard the many calls for rescues on the night Hurricane Sandy came to town, she was moved to action.

“These guys are the real heroes,” she said of the members of the East Rockaway Fire Department. “They pulled people out of their houses, out of the water, all night long.” Before the superstorm was over and in the days afterward, the department would respond to some 200 calls.

Daitz, who lives at First Avenue and Williamson Street and was displaced by the storm, said that she kept in touch with her father, Leon Daitz, a member of the East Rockaway Rescue Unit, during the night of Oct. 29. The next day, she found out that both the Main Street firehouse and fire headquarters command units had to be moved to the Village Hall grounds.

“I asked what they needed, and they said blankets and toiletries,” Daitz recounted. So she and her friend Debbie Hansen dropped some things off, and stayed to manage what she thought would be a table full of supplies. That table turned into an outpouring of donations the likes of which the village has never seen.

Daitz joined forces with East Rockaway Fire Chief Steve Torborg, who told her that the Red Cross was coming and wanted to use the firehouse as a distribution center — but for the time being, the agency had been diverted to Island Park. “We needed some sort of security to watch the items,” Daitz said, “so I arranged for Diane LauKaitis and the Auxiliary Police to help us. We put a plan in place and started taking donations.”

That grass-roots effort, starting with a single table, ultimately attracted so much clothing and other much-needed supplies that East Rockaway became a distribution center for neighboring communities that were also hit hard by the storm. “We’ve sent things to Island Park, Oceanside, Long Beach, Staten Island, Far Rockaway, among other areas,” Daitz said. The Main Street firehouse became a distribution center for the Federal Emergency Management Agency as well, with FEMA officials trusting their supply of ready-to-eat meals and bottled water to members of the Fire Department and other residents who came to help.


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Great job by outstanding people. They should think about running for office most our politicians stayed on the sidelines wore cardigans or sat in their own clic.

Great job by great people

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 | Report this

Awesome job to all involved. Even though East Rockaway covers a very small area of the map, you were able to place it at the apex. Nice work.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 | Report this

Unbelievably fantastic job by ERFD, auxiliary police and the village hall. Frustration is widespread about LIPA but the village did try to pass along info from Lipa. Turns out Lipa gave conflicting info and they are the ones to blame for our power issues.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 | Report this

I had the pleasure of volunteering at the Firehouse for several days and was very impressed with Ms. Daitz. She had the whole operation running very smoothly. I was very displeased however with the local politicians that were there. What I saw was a terrible vision of patting themselves on the back Mayor Lenahan and Deputy Mayor Romano made it a point to load up a box truck while the cameras from a major network was there video taping them doing it. This had man power and such tied up for a little less than an hour. I made four trips to Bethany in my own car to drop supplies off during the time it took to load this truck. This would have been fine but when the camera was put away they unloaded the truck they just loaded for the cameras and loaded an empty truck. This was all done for a photo opportunity! I expressed my displeasure and was told to be quiet. I also saw at one point another person of village government who was on the clock through the Town of Hempstead feeding his men with food that was sent by FEMA to the people who were suffering from this disaster. This was another terrible thing to see! I asked the Mayor if he was coming to Bethany to help inload and he told me to knock yourself out pal and then banged my car with his hand! Disgraceful! Liz Daitz did a fantastic job and should be commended for all she has done. The public officials of East Rockaway were terrible not all but these three that I witnessed. Heck I don't even live in this village and saw this as a terrible act of humanity I can only imagine what others must have thought.

Thursday, November 15, 2012 | Report this

I guess the Town of Hempstead workers, doing 15 hr shifts arent entitled to a meal? Or would you rather have them park the trucks and go to a restaurant? As far as the Mayor and his trustees, they have been at the village hall, coordinating the day to day business that still needs to be done. All of the people in this village seem to think the town hall controls LIPA. Guess what? The village is not LIPA. They are not your cable, water, or newspaper delivery service. I've been without power, gas, etc as everyone else. But when I see people ranting and raving at Fran about their power it's ridiculous. The village can only forward the information given to them from LIPA.

Monday, November 19, 2012 | Report this

Paul I think your missing the part of feeding the workers using FEMA food which is not for their use. Can you explain what I am reading about the photo op that I read in the comment above yours?

Monday, November 19, 2012 | Report this

Hey Paul

I think you are really missing the mark ... jabeyrer never said they couldn't eat what he was saying was that the TOH workers and the trustee who works for them were eating FEMA food which was meant for the poor souls who lost things. TOH guys were on the clock getting paid and had money to use for eating they should not have taken from those who were less fortunate! That is the disgraceful part about it. I have noticed you are still silent on the Mayor and Deputy Mayor ... off the topic where were the representatives from the village for the veterans by the way. Not a single one showed up , yes I heard the mayor was sick but what about the other guys they could have gone!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012 | Report this

I saw the garbage trucks spitting out 20's on the hour cause they were on the clock. The nerve of these guys, and we all know they come from a far off land and none of them lost everything too. They had no problems of their own, they just enjoyed working around the clock. They provided zero help to the community, right? And the audacity to eat a MRE that fema provided. I even saw one throw away part of a cookie. I heard several people starved to death because of those missing mre's. In fact fema was so distraught after hearing the news about the garbage crew that ate an mre, they packed up shop with all the thousands of extra meals and went elsewhere.

Erviewer, you are a pathetic excuse for a human being. With all the sh!t going on and the community coming together to overcome this disaster, you unleash this pathetic and tasteless political attack. Grow up, move on or move out. Nobody wants to hear your crap right now.

Friday, November 23, 2012 | Report this

Dearest DOC

Your tone on your writing are pretty terrible ... I guess I have hit a nerve on speaking the truth ... I never said that they couldn't eat all I was saying was that it was terrible that they thought it was OK to eat food that was supposed to go to victims and not to people who were on the clock. I am sure some people had a loss of some sort with the crew I saw but they were working for the TOH not the DPW of East Rock. If you are a public employee working your working and are in the spotlight and should be careful what you do. I guess maybe I should understand that your education is very limited in reading because not once did I attack a person I was expressing what I read and saw ... it is a shame that if someone speaks the truth you get upset. Say hi to Mr. Lombardo for me!

Monday, November 26, 2012 | Report this
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