Battling back

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It turned out that the Halandia Shores aid effort was spearheaded by Carol Ueckerman-Smalls, a Suffolk County resident whose mother, Mildred, lives at Halandia. “They’re having a tough time over there,” said Carol, who lives in Greenlawn. “They have about 18 buildings, with eight people or so in each. All but four of the buildings were wiped out. Management is doing what they need to do — cleaning up, throwing out trash — but that leaves some of the people with nothing. Some of those people are confused. No one has come to tell them what’s next.

“We went to visit my mom,” she continued, “and one day later we said, ‘We have to go back.’ We loaded the car with food, drove around taking donations, and then brought everything to those people. We even brought our Halloween candy baskets as a little treat.”

Ueckerman-Smalls said that her two teenage children, as well as her sister Lori Thornhill and her kids, were instrumental in the collection of donations. “I told them about the situation and they immediately said, ‘Let’s go,’” she recounted. “They went around our neighborhood collecting, and people who also had no power and no food gave us whatever they had — blankets, coffee, water. We drove over and set up and invited everyone in, and they just sat and talked and cried. Some of the stories were heartbreaking. I had this little 4½-foot 90-year-old hug me and say she just lost her son, and now she lost all the pictures that reminded her of him. These people … they don’t know what to do, and they have no advocates.”

One story among many

The residents of Halandia Shores, of course, weren’t the only people in need. And the Ueckerman-Smalls group wasn’t the only one helping out. The Baldwin School District collected nonperishable food at its office on Hastings Street. Malkin’s Appliances, on Grand Avenue, briefly set up shop as a generator exchange program. According to members of the Baldwin Civic Association, Malkin’s kept a list of people who needed generators, pumps and dehumidifiers, and connected them with people who could supply those items for loan or purchase. “Malkin’s will make no money from any sales,” the BCA stated. “They just want to help.”
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