Island Park Resident Named ‘Holiday Hero’ For Spearheading Donation Distribution Following Sandy
ISLAND PARK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — One community on Long Island hit hard by Superstorm Sandy is slowly getting back on its feet thanks to an overwhelming amount of donations streaming in from all over.
But all those donated goods are only getting into the proper hands because of volunteer Terry Reichel, CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Tuesday.
Reichel has been named one of CBS 2’s Holiday Heroes for stepping up to the challenge to help her fellow neighbors in Island Park.
With a clipboard in hand, the mother and teacher coordinates an army of volunteers and an avalanche of donations.
Reichel’s own home, like just about every other home and business in Island Park, was flooded in the storm.
She, her husband and their four children have been living in a camper parked on their front lawn since just after Sandy hit.
With donations coming in from all over the country, someone had to take charge, Gusoff reported.
“I asked her to do this and she just went with it and coordinated everybody’s efforts,” Island Park Fire Chief Steve Ruscio told Gusoff.
There were minimal resources in the immediate aftermath of the storm. Even the firehouse was under water, Gusoff reported.
“They asked me and I said yes. And that was just how it came and, quite honestly, it’s not me it’s everybody,” Reichel said. “We had no blueprint. There was – ‘What building can we use?’ ‘What area can we stage?'”
Residents said in the several weeks since the storm hit, Reichel has been a constant presence.
“She’s been here every day since the day after the storm putting together, coordinating, sorting, lifting, boxing,” one woman told Gusoff.
Reichel has been hard at work finding homes for donations pouring in, like hats and scarves donated for a children’s holiday party.
“You find out in the face of adversity, all of a sudden something rises to the surface that’s beyond the individual even what they thought they were capable of,” donor Margaret Rodriguez told Gusoff.
Reichel said that while she looks forward to normalcy, she said her job is not done just yet.
“Hopefully, Island Park won’t need as much — that’s our goal, is to just get everybody what they need and then when everybody can manage on their own, then we’ll slow down,” she told Gusoff.
Among the larger donations that came into Island Park is a fire truck from Georgia. Island Park’s Village Hall was also flooded during Sandy.
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