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The Times
  • Community pulls together for victims of Hurricane Sandy

  • Without the community, downstate relief for Hurricane Sandy would have some holes.

    “The bottom line is the community efforts fill the gaps in areas the American Red Cross doesn’t cover,” said Kelly Brown, emergency services manager for the American Red Cross of the Mohawk Valley.

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  • Without the community, downstate relief for Hurricane Sandy would have some holes.
    “The bottom line is the community efforts fill the gaps in areas the American Red Cross doesn’t cover,” said Kelly Brown, emergency services manager for the American Red Cross of the Mohawk Valley.
    While the Red Cross provides mass shelters and items specific to shelters, Brown said the replacement of goods and supplies — especially clothing and cleaning supplies — are provided by those outside the organization.
    And in the Mohawk Valley the response has been overwhelming.
    From Rome to Mohawk and everywhere in between, individuals and local businesses are banding together collecting clothing, food, flashlights, toiletries and the like to send to New York City and New Jersey that were devastated by last week’s storm.
    Joseph Mellace, an attorney in Rome, said his sister, Angela Curry, and her husband live in Lindenhurst in Long Island and were the inspiration for the donation drive that came out of a Facebook post. “The residents themselves have nicknamed the area the ‘war zone,’” he said. “There are three houses that burned down to the ground (on South Sixth Street).”
    Mellace said the area is without power, and residents hope it might be back Sunday, but with no guarantee. The community also must deal with looting, he said.
    To make matters worse, according to the National Weather Service, the coast might have to brace for a Nor’easter that could hit the region Wednesday into Thursday.
    Along the coast, the storm could produce strong winds, heavy rain and cause moderate flooding.
    Along with the predicted storm, Mellace said, dropping temperatures make donations a necessity for the victims.
    As accounts of the devastation on the coast swirl in the media, Mellace said residents in the Mohawk Valley have sprung to action.
    “It’s been overwhelming,” he said. “The depth of the suffering is much more intense than maybe (people) first realize. It’s really touched people’s spirits to want to help others.”
    The giving attitude is typical for this area, Brown said. “People come out and want to donate. They want to do something. They want to volunteer,” he said. “It’s a very normal occurrence around here.”
    Trinh Truong, Occupy Utica member and Thomas R. Proctor High School student, said the local Occupy group has been collecting donations since last week. “The Occupy Wall Street started up down there,” she said. “We wanted to contribute and help any way that we could.”
    Truong pointed out a disaster such as Hurricane Sandy brings the community together.
    “It reaffirms the idea that the community has to help each other out,” she said.
    Scott Grates, who simply passed along information Mellace had posted on Facebook, said he can attest to the enormous response. “Basically, I took it (Sunday) morning … and it went viral,” he said. “It speaks to what this community does and stands for.”
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