Long Islanders aid Texans struggling from latest natural disaster
When a freak deep freeze swept through Texas last month, the privately held state utility company Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) proved to be woefully unprepared despite prior warnings. With the power grid failing, millions of Texas were plunged into darkness, water treatment plants ceased operating and frozen water pipes burst from falling temperatures. Millions of Texans were left with no power, water or heat. As of March 4, CNN reported 47 weather-related deaths as residents continue to struggle to emerge from this natural disaster.
Since Feb. 20, a Long Island group called Americans Helping Americans has been running a donation drive requesting myriad supplies including water, batteries, paper towels, toilet paper and First Aid kits that can be taken to three drop-off sites: Ben’s General Contracting in Freeport, Junkluggers in Hicksville and the Selden Firehouse. The donation drive reflects the trend of one state helping another state recover from a natural disaster.
According to Dustin, an Americans Helping Americans organizer who requested anonymity, his organization’s altruism has its roots in the aftermath of 2012’s Hurricane Sandy.
“After what happened on Long Island with Hurricane Sandy, a lot of people started to get concerned about this possibly happening again,” he said. “The idea came from Sandy and making sure we’re prepared. A bunch of people all over Long Island decided to come together and help out other [places] where one community might end up better off than another. We’ve actually done this several times with different natural disasters across the country in places like Florida, Louisiana and Texas. Based on what’s needed in other parts of the country, we pool all our resources together and do what we can to help out other states.”
The group’s last major mission of mercy came when Hurricane Harvey touched land in south Texas and caused major flooding and damage in a number of Gulf Coast communities including Houston and Galveston. Americans Helping Americans responded by shipping roughly 80 tons of supplies. The organization has direct contact with local sheriffs, pastors, churches and government officials; a local trucking company the organization has worked with in the past lends its trucks and trailers to ensure donations get down to Texas once the drive concludes by the end of March. According to Dustin, a group of community-minded people from all walks of life that include construction workers, firefighters, lawyers, contractors, police officers, car mechanics and healthcare workers enable the effort to succeed. Relationships are key and word-of-mouth is how people are recruited to volunteer their time.
At the Junkluggers Hicksville site, donations are already flowing in according to Director of Business Development Kevin McGill.
“We just got involved in the last week or so, but since then, we’ve collected a good number of materials and had a handful of people drop stuff off at our site alone,” he said. “The good thing is we have trucks to take things down to the eventual central hub, where things will get shipped out. The other locations, from what I heard, are starting to fill up as well and are almost running out of space. People are definitely pitching in.”
Although Texas Senators Cruz and Cornyn are on record as opposing having the federal government send aid to Long Island in light of Hurricane Sandy’s devastation, Americans for Americans is free of partisanship or score keeping, a point Dustin makes adamantly.
“We’re just trying to do what we can to make sure that people in Texas are taken care of,” he said. “This is not a political agenda—just Americans helping Americans. I’m personally in touch with people who are boots on the ground out there. It’s a shame that it’s not being covered on the mainstream news. There is a lot of hardship going on down there right now.”
What To Donate
Gift cards, water, water and more water, nonperishable foods, canned foods, baby supplies, wipes, diapers, formula, jarred food, batteries, flashlights, cleaning products, candles, First Aid kits, toilet paper, paper towels, paper cups, paper plates, plastic knives, forks and spoons, adult Depends. Please NO CLOTHING.
If you have mileage with airlines, please consider converting it to gift cards.
Where To Donate
Bens General Contracting
19 Suffolk St
Freeport, NY 11520
Monday to Friday
7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
12A Commercial St.
Monday to Friday
7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
44 Woodmere Pl.
Selden, NY 11784
Text Lisa when on the way