When Hurricane Sandy caused catastrophic damage in the Rockaways, she also virtually wiped out volunteer fire companies such as Broad Channel and West Hamilton Beach.
The departments have put out an SOS call on their websites and through the media, and have had donations of money and in some cases vehicles start to trickle in.
But elsewhere in Queens, legions of volunteers with more than a dozen other emergency organizations prepared before Hurricane Sandy, and have been working alongside the NYPD, FDNY and National Guard volunteer ambulance organizations since the storm hit.
Now they too are asking for the public’s help — primarily financial assistance — so they can keep going at top capacity.
Ryan Gunning, president of the Glendale Volunteer Ambulance Corps, said his members, like those in the more than 40 volunteer ambulance groups, fire departments and other organizations willingly left families and personal comforts to help out for days on end.
But he also said it has taken a toll on organizations that have been financially strapped in recent years while trying to maintain levels of service.
“I’ve been sleeping in my truck down here in the Rockaways ever since Monday,” Gunning said. “We’ve been making two or three runs a day from Atlas Terminal. And we’ve donated an ambulance to Broad Channel to help get them up and running.”
But the company’s money and resources have been exhausted, and a company that is looking to celebrate its 40th anniversary may not make it without help.
“We may not make it through the year,” he said.
Ron Cohen of the Forest Hills Volunteer Ambulance Corp ssaid they too donated a vehicle to a devastated squad, along with supplies and equipment, all while they and other volunteer groups were clearing trees and shuttling donations of food and relief supplies to the Rockaways, Breezy Point, Howard Beach and other areas.
“Right now our service hasn’t been affected, but a lot of our resources are down in southern Queens,” Cohen said.
While many relief agencies say they no longer need donations of clothing, Cohen’s and Gunning’s groups are trying to collect hats, gloves and winter coats for victims and volunteers at a fast pace before the weather turns much colder.
“And coffee,” Gunning said. “Everyone down here wants coffee.”
Frank Kotnik, president of the 104th Precinct’s Glendale Civilian Observation Patrol, was taking part in a supply convoy on Wednesday afternoon.
“We just had a fundraiser in October, but it wasn’t enough,” Kotnik said. “And it wasn’t enough.”
Daryl Mazlish, president of the Jamaica Estates Volunteer Ambulance Corps, said even groups farthest from the disaster zone geographically have been affected in terms of finances, draining resources, and personnel fatigue, both from local calls during the storm and mutual assistance to other units.
“Because of lines, you have police officers at gas stations when there are other things they could be doing during an emergency,” he said. “We don’t have to wait in line for gas, but it still is a problem.”
And yes, he said, his personnel are getting tired, and they always could use donations for supplies and equipment.
The West Hamilton Beach Volunteer Fire Department in Howard Beach has lost all of its equipment and all six of its vehicles, including two pumpers, two ambulances, a 4x4 brush fire unit and a command vehicle. It also has lost thousands of dollars worth of tools, radios and members’ personal protection gear and equipment.
The Hooversville, Pa., Volunteer Fire Company, located near Pittsburgh, has donated a 1981 Mack pumper that it had been unable to sell.
West Hamilton Beach, in a plea on its website, is asking that any fire departments, police departments, businesses or individuals who might be able to help are asked to contact them via email at WHBFD941@aol.com or 718-843-1716.
On its website, the Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department said it needs public assistance more than ever.
“Our department relies on the generosity of others. We are a nonprofit organization and we seek the help of everyday people to help us continue to protect the community we serve. There are no paid members of the BCVFD and all money donated is used to keep the department running. We are grateful for every dollar donated to us and no amount is too small. We ask that you give what you can, and we will continue our pledge to protect the community.”
All donations to the BCVFD will go towards rebuilding the fire department and the town. Contributions and nonperishable food and clothing can be brought to the fire house at 15 Noel Road, Broad Channel, NY 11693.
Donations also can be made on line at broadchannel vfd.org/support/donation.php.
Information on donating to emergency volunteer groups in Queens can be found for the following volunteer emergency groups:
Glendale Volunteer Ambulance Corp: glendalevac.org/
Corona Community VAC: ccvac.org/ default.html
Ridgewood VAC: ridgewoodvac.org
Bayside VAC: bvacems.tripod.com
Queens Village Hollis Bellrose VAC: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Queens-Village-Hollis-Bellerose-Volunteer-Ambulance-Corps/138879199509891
Glendale Community Observation Patrol: 70-24 Myrtle Ave., Glendale, NY 11385 or www.g-cop.org/
Bay Community VAC Bayside: www.bcvac.org
Flushing Community VAC: fcvac. webs.com
Glen Oaks VAC: glenoaksvac.org/
Queens Hatzolah: queenshatzolah.org/
Little Neck-Douglaston Community Ambulance: www.lndamb.org/
Middle Village Volunteer Ambulance Corporation: (718) 894-7951, 66-76 70th St., Middle Village, NY 11379.
Whitestone Community VAC: white stoneambulance.org
Woodhaven-Richmond Hill VAC: 78-15 Jamaica Ave., Woodhaven, NY 11421, (718) 296-7918.