Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Mormon Helping Hands--Rockaways, New York

Click on this link for video feed: http://vimeo.com/joshuabrown/hurricanesandy

    Thousands of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continue to volunteer to assist in the recovery efforts within these communities. On Sunday, November 11th, thousands of Mormons cancelled their church services and arrived by air, bus and train from all across the country to help.
    Please share this video with any friends and family that might be able to help the areas affected by Hurricane Sandy. Not only at the Rockaways, but Staten Island, Long Island, and New Jersey. The church is coordinating the efforts, but anyone (both Mormon and non Mormon) is welcome to come and help.
    For more information about this and other ongoing efforts please visit:

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS 11/14/12: Mormon Helping Hands Mobilizes for Storm-Ravaged Rockaways and Broad Channel-1,000s of Mormon Volunteers Pump Water Out of Basements and Gut Drywall Before Mold Grows

   Mormons, better known in New York City for clean-cut young missionaries in pressed white shirts, are now doing God’s work by getting their hands dirty.
   Members of Mormon Helping Hands have won rave reviews from Rockaway and Broad Channel residents whose homes were battered by floodwaters.
   About 6,000 volunteers from all over the Northeast have helped pump water out of deluged basements and gut homes. The group is affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
   “We take the sheetrock out ... because the basements are now going to get mold,” said Kevin Calderwood, who is coordinating the group’s work in Queens. “In a weekend, we can do hundreds and hundreds of work orders.”
   About 200 Mormon missionaries stationed in Queens take work orders from beleaguered homeowners during the week, he said. On weekends, the volunteers come down to do the work.
Educator Randy Nelson, 57, of Belle Harbor, whose basement and first floor were wiped out by the flooding, said the group tore all the sheetrock out of her basement and garage.
   “They came in with droves and droves of people,” she said of the team that finished in two afternoons what would have taken her weeks to do on her own. “They were really incredible.”
Retired Con Edison worker Jim O’Connor, 58, of Belle Harbor, called Mormon Helping Hands “extraordinary.”
   “It boggles my mind that there are still good people left like that in the world,” he said of the volunteers who showed up unexpectedly offering to help.
   Other groups, such as Team Rubicon, a disaster response organization of military veterans and medical professionals, are doing similar work on the peninsula.
   “We’re emptying out basements of water. ... We’re tearing down sheetrock,” said Stephanie Rudat, a Rubicon advisory board member. “We are helping get people back into their homes.”
   Hundreds of Rubicon volunteers from across the U.S. do labor-intensive work in the Rockaways in the day and sleep on cots in a Brooklyn warehouse.
   Community Board 14 District Manager Jonathan Gaska said volunteers have been vital to the recovery of the Rockaways.
   “They’re out here 10, 12 hours a day and they’re here for all the right reasons,” he said. “The volunteers got food and supplies out to the people quicker than the government did.”

MORMON NEWSROOM 11/14/12: Mormon Volunteers Give More than 80,000 Hours Service to Hurricane Sandy Victims

Salt Lake City
   Volunteers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are continuing efforts to help East Coast residents recover from Hurricane Sandy. Local leaders cancelled or abbreviated worship services to give members more time to serve.
   More than 7,700 Church members and missionaries have devoted over 80,000 hours since Hurricane Sandy hit to help residents along the storm’s path. The Church has provided 300,000 pounds of relief supplies including: food, water, blankets, hygiene kits, generators, pumps, tarps, cleaning supplies and fuel.
   Local Church leaders from all across the East Coast are helping to organize the Church’s relief projects. The efforts are centrally coordinated through a Church building in New Jersey, and donations and supplies are gathered there to be shipped out to the areas most affected by the storm.
   This past weekend, one group of Church volunteers from the New York area focused its efforts on first responders’ damaged homes in the Rockaways, an area on the southwest side of Long Island. The volunteers have spent much of the past week cleaning out basements in the area: clearing flood-damaged furniture, ripping out ruined sheetrock and removing dirt, sand, mold and trash.
   In first responder John Carbone’s home, volunteers helped strip damaged sheetrock from most of the basement. Carbone said he appreciated the group’s willingness to help anyone in need. “Everybody’s being helped by you people,” he said. “It’s not just, ‘Hey, you’re a Catholic, so I’m going to help you; you’re Pentecostal, I’m going to help you.’ No, you’re a human being. You’re going to help them all.”
   Church members also helped residents in Staten Island. Resident Patricia Varvaro said the volunteers helped her with cleanup, but also helped to lift her spirits. She said they helped her believe that “there’s humanity left in this world; there’s still good people. It’s giving you a feeling of hope in a moment of despair.”
   The yellow-vested volunteers in Long Island have gone house-to-house helping residents needing assistance removing trees or pumping water from basements.
   About 200 missionaries from Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut joined 200 other Church members from Connecticut to work in storm-damaged towns along the Connecticut coast on Sunday, including Fairfield, Milford, Bridgeport, Madison and Killingworth.
   The Church has also helped to transport supplies to affected areas. Church members in Oakton, Virginia, helped fill six semi-trucks full of coats, blankets and clothing. They were delivered to the Rockaway and Lynbrook areas of Queens last week.
   Church leaders continue to partner and coordinate relief efforts with local authorities, the American Red Cross, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) and other relief organizations. Church members will continue major cleanup efforts for the next several weeks. “The devastation left by the storm is heart-wrenching. So many people have lost so much, and we will do everything we can to provide their families with relief and help rebuild our communities,” said Jeffery E. Olson, a Church leader organizing the local disaster response.

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