Riverhead FD leading Sandy relief efforts

Superstorm Sandy, Riverhead Fire Department Mastic Shirley, Long Island
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | RFD hurricane relief donations organizer Amanda Starks (right) gets help from volunteers (from left) Jared Polak, 12, and Girls Scouts Troop 1159 members Renee Mott, Nicole Levasseur and Kristal Dewey at Riverhead fire headquarters Friday evening.

Riverhead firefighters are leading relief efforts in Mastic and Shirley, areas that were hit hard by superstorm Sandy.

Residents of the two South Shore hamlets have been somewhat neglected, as most relief efforts are focusing on Long Beach, Queens and elsewhere, fire officials said.

Donations being collected at Riverhead fire headquarters on Roanoke Avenue were mostly trickling in from local residents, said fire district manager Frank Darrow, but he has received calls from Connecticut, upstate New York and even California from groups wanting to make large donations.

Amanda Starks, wife of volunteer Charlie Starks, has been organizing the relief efforts for RFD.

She’s been arriving at the Riverhead firehouse each evening at 6 p.m. with a crew of 10 to 15 volunteers to sort through donations.

“Tonight we are supposed to have the Girls Scouts and [Riverhead High School] cheerleaders helping out,” she said Friday. “I’m very happy with the outcome, the support of folks, and Jamesport Fire Department using RFD as a hub for donations. It is really good to see that so much good can come out of this event when you see a mass amount of people who want to help it overshadows the negativity.”

Mr. Darrow said he’s also received many calls from LIPA workers, asking if Riverhead firefighters could put up out-of-town utility workers in the Roanoke Avenue firehouse. Some workers can’t find hotel rooms to stay in, and many have been sleeping in their trucks or tents.

The RFD has rooms on the second floor with cots and blankets set up. He said that they may get as many as 30 workers staying there Friday night.

Riverhead firefighter Scott Robertson picked up donations at the firehouse and Our Lady of the Shrine in Manorville Friday morning using a flatbed truck from his family’s business, Scotty’s D & E Tire Service on East Main Street.

He dropped the donations off later at St. Jude’s Catholic Church in Mastic Beach.

“They are thankful for what they are getting, but they are overwhelmed by the citizens coming in to get what they need,” Mr. Robertson said. “They did stress that they are tight on space and they don’t need any more clothing. They need non-perishable food, cleaning supplies, bleach to clean the mold, industrial garbage bags, tools, hammers, brooms, and mops.

“They are also looking for pet food, kitty litter and other supplies to take care of their pets.”

On Saturday Riverhead Fire Department volunteers will be out in fire trucks at Waldbaum’s and Lowe’s and other retailers to collect donations from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Roanoke Avenue firehouse will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday to collect donations with Riverhead High School cheerleaders and others volunteering to do sorting. Firefighters and their families will then prepare dinner for all the volunteers.

Ms. Starks said that WalMart donated a $200 gift card to the cause, but she wasn’t sure yet if it would be used for donations or to buy Christmas gifts for children those who lost possessions in Hurricane Sandy.

[email protected]