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Volunteers Step Up To Help Devastated Residents Of Staten Island

Staten Island Damage

Damage from Superstorm Sandy was beyond belief in many parts of Staten Island. (Credit: CBS 2)

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Superstorm Sandy

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There were at least 40 deaths stemming from Hurricane Sandy in New York City as of Saturday morning, and 22 of them were on Staten Island.

As CBS 2’s Sean Hennessey reported, getting food, water and clothing to those struck by Sandy was the top priority Saturday. The damage in some areas was beyond belief.

In the Midland Beach section of the borough, one house on Quincy Avenue was lifted off its foundation and moved about 20 to 30 feet into the middle of the roadway. The scenes were being replayed over and over, and the destruction and devastation were visible everywhere.

WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell In Ocean Breeze

But the government was helping as best it could, as were good Samaritans.

One recipient was a little boy who had gone for days without shoes or socks. He said his feet were cold until he received the socks.

“I want to say thank you for giving me all the stuff and making me very happy,” the boy said.

The devastation was widespread across the area.

“It’s total devastation. It’s not just New Dorp Beach. It’s the whole south shore, from Tottenville to South Beach,” one man said.

On Friday, people streamed into New Dorp High School all day donating what they can to help their neighbors who lost everything in Sandy.

Some residents said they felt compelled to help since they were fortunate enough to be spared major damage.

“Oh my gosh, it’s horrible. I drove around yesterday and I’ve never seen anything like this before in my life. It’s like a third-world country,” one woman told Haskell. “it just felt good to help others in need.”

A relief fund has been created for the residents of Staten Island and other hard-hit areas in the wake of superstorm Sandy.

The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation was created in the memory of former FDNY firefighter Stephen Siller who ran through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel in 60 pounds of gear to respond on 9/11. Siller died at the World Trade Center.

Stephen Siller’s brother, Frank Siller, was working on the relief effort himself Saturday morning.

“If you walk the streets of Staten Island, or if you were out in Long Beach in Long Island, or Breezy Point, the devastation is just unbelievable,” he told CBS 2’s Hennessey. “If you’re sitting at home and you’re watching this, and you haven’t done anything yet, do something right now.”

Red Cross crews also came from as far away as Colorado to help out.

LISTEN: WCBS 880’s Tanya Hansen With Red Cross Representative Patricia Bellinger

The Red Cross told WCBS 880 that they have mobile feeding vehicles out on Staten Island.

What have the residents been saying?

“You know, I have to say they have been so gracious. People that we ran into were just saying ‘Thank you.’ Obviously, it is heartbreaking to see your community go through this and I know that Staten Island was hit hard during 9/11 as well,” Red Cross representative Patricia Bellinger told WCBS 880’s Tanya Hansen. “So, they’re just bonding together and dealing with it and being New Yorkers.”

The cleanup on Staten Island will take months and months, officials said.

“I lost stuff that can’t be replaced,” said Ocean Breeze resident Joe Spinelli. “My wedding pictures.”

When the flood waters rode into Spinelli’s home they destroyed everything.

Stepping over the shattered pieces of his life, he pointed out a dirty water mark on the wall, six-feet-high.

“That was a great loss When you build up everything and you lose it in a heartbeat, you gotta be thankful,” he told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell.

He’s thankful that he and his wife are still alive.

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