Rockaway gets holiday help

Families are still trying to pull their lives together as the holiday season approaches. AP Photo/Mark Lennihan
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Hurricane or no hurricane, the holidays are arriving right on schedule, so now some officials are using the season to drum up help for Superstorm Sandy victims in the Rockaways.

The New York Transit Museum announced a limited collection of H train goods for sale through the museum’s online store. The proceeds generated by this sale will benefit relief efforts led by The Graybeards, a local nonprofit dedicated to the Rockaways community.

Darren Kornblut, of the Image Exchange, the firm that operates the Transit Museum’s online store, said the merchandise is a great way for train buffs — or holiday shoppers — to assist in the relief efforts.

Officials want merchandise to fly off the shelves this shopping season, so the city announced a promotional campaign designed to help small businesses stay viable for the holidays.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) announced a new promotional campaign, Support NYC Small Business, to encourage shopping in city neighborhoods hit hard by the October storm.

“In the height of the holiday shopping season, we need to make sure that New Yorkers, tourists and all shoppers are fully aware that many small businesses impacted by Sandy have reopened and are ready to serve customers,” said Quinn.

Helping Rockaway residents beyond the holiday season is the main drive in an effort to bring back a sense of normalcy in the form of a basic household task: doing the laundry.

Many residents experienced flooding that destroyed washers and dryers, making laundry a daily challenge.

Soon after the storm, Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) had tried to work with the Red Cross, a partner organization to Tide’s Loads of Hope mobile laundry unit, to bring the truck to the hurricane-affected areas.

According to a spokeswoman for Tide, there are no plans to bring laundry trucks to affected areas in Queens.

But there are stories about individuals organizing themselves and helping those in the Rockaways without a shred of confusion.

Red Cross volunteer and former Air Force One chef Doug Scarlett did not hesitate to help when the storm unleashed its fury.

The night after Sandy hit, Scarlett, 65, jumped in his truck at 8 p.m. and drove straight through from Knoxville, arriving in New Jersey at 10 a.m. the next morning. He was immediately put in charge of kitchens across the tri-state area.

“I just get the food out and it’s been a lot of food,” he said, adding that he also spent a couple of days managing the Red Cross relief kitchen at Resorts World Casino in the Aqueduct Racetrack in South Ozone Park.

Food can provide comfort to those battered by the storm and the federal government is stepping in to make sure victims can afford a full belly.

About 30,000 New Yorkers affected by the storm, including many living in the Rockaways, are eligible to receive temporary food assistance from the federal government, the city Human Resources Administration announced Friday.

The program providing the assistance, known as the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or D-SNAP, will give out one-time payments for households affected by Sandy.

A family of one with a monthly income no larger than $2,268 can receive $200, a family of two with an income limit of $2,965 may receive $367, a family of three with an income limit of $3,416 may receive $526 and a family of four with an income limit of $4,034 may receive $668.

Residents who lived in Far Rockaway Oct. 27 with the ZIP codes 11691, 11692, 11693, 11694 and 11697 and who suffered hurricane-related damage or losses are eligible to apply.

Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4546.

Posted 4:50 pm, December 12, 2012
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