By Chris Herlinger
Church World Service
Freeport, New York – To outsiders, New York's Long Island may evoke images of summer homes and beach living.
But economic hard times have not been kind to working-class communities like Freeport. And the damage brought by Hurricane Sandy has only worsened -- and deeply so -- what have already been tough years.
"For some of the most vulnerable on Long Island, their lives were already a disaster before Sandy," said the Rev. Tom Goodhue, a United Methodist minister who heads the Long Island Council of Churches.
So, shipments of Church World Service Blankets, Hygiene Kits and Emergency Cleanup Buckets are proving to be a boon to those in communities like Freeport who were already vulnerable before the disaster.
But those who never thought they would ever need assistance – say, in the form of a blanket, or a bucket and cleaning supplies – find themselves suddenly vulnerable.
"What changes after an event like Sandy is that people who aren't accustomed to needing help suddenly need help," Goodhue said earlier this week, nearly a month after Sandy hit shore in New York and New Jersey.
"They have needed to 'muck out' their homes. So things like the CWS buckets have been greatly needed," Goodhue said during a few spare minutes at the council's food pantry in Freeport.
"The CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets are tremendously helpful to a family who is cleaning up," he said.
The needs are not going away, either. It will take months (at the least) for some homes to be restored to some level of normalcy. And of course, some homes will never be restored from flood and water damage.
So the term "long-term recovery" takes on a whole new meaning, Goodhue said.
"The recovery will be very, very long-term," he said, adding that affected residents are already worried about being forgotten in the months, even years, ahead when the immediacy of the disaster will be behind them.
"Church World Service is different, though, because it is committed to long-term recovery," Goodhue said.
One reminder of that is due to the relationship between Long Island residents and CWS. The Long Island Council of Churches has long been a supporter of CWS's CROP Hunger Walks. Now, residents find that their support of CWS has a direct impact on their lives and the lives of their communities.
Goodhue finds himself thanking residents who have participated in the CROP Hunger Walks, especially walks held earlier this year. "What they did in the spring allows CWS to respond in the fall," he said.
"The connection is very real now," Goodhue said. "They can see how their support is put to use."
For the latest updates, visit our Sandy information page and view our latest appeal for ways you can help.