Local Sandy relief efforts turn eyes to south
CAPITAL REGION When Jon Phillips got a break from the fray Wednesday night to go trick-or-treating with his kids, he noticed a group of children and parents collecting candy for the people of New York City and New Jersey.
It was a touching sight for a man who was wondering how else he could help those affected the most by Hurricane Sandy. As the last few hiccups from wind and power damage are being worked out in the Capital Region, businesses, organizations and residents are turning their focus to those across the Northeast affected by the superstorm’s wrath.
The owner of Phillips Hardware, which has a store in Schenectady and a half-dozen more throughout the Capital Region, is suffering from what he calls “retail guilt.” When the East Coast was still anticipating Sandy, Phillips and other local business owners were stocking their shelves with generators, flashlights, batteries and sump pumps.
“My master plan was to overload our stores with inventory and unload it later if we ended up with extra,” said Phillips. “We all thought we were going to get hit and have no power.”
The region is predictably sensitive to storm and flood warnings after tropical storms Irene and Lee upended local communities last year.
Phillips sold hundreds of generators in the days leading up to the storm. So when he came into work Tuesday morning to see the Capital Region had avoided the worst of Sandy, he couldn’t help but think of the unopened boxes of generators sitting in customers’ garages.
His first plan of attack was to unload the extra generators he still had in his stores. He drove down to hard-hit Denville, N.J., that night with his father and sold 28 portable generators and other emergency supplies to the first people to show up.
Now, he’s trying to spread the word to local customers who bought a generator to list it for sale on Craigslist if they don’t need it right away. Since Wednesday, nearly three dozen generators have been posted on Craigslist’s Albany website.
“People are coming up here from Jersey and other areas that were affected, looking for generators,” said Phillips. “What if Jersey took all the generators and it was us suffering?”
With work complete on addressing damage in upstate New York, National Grid said Thursday it was sending nearly 1,400 employees and contractors from its eastern division to parts of New York City and Long Island devastated by the storm.
Millions of people are in need of food and water four days after Hurricane Sandy ravaged parts of the Eastern Seaboard, and people upstate are wondering how to help. Price Chopper, the American Red Cross and NewsChannel 13 teamed up Thursday to launch the “Your Help Counts: Sandy” campaign, with an initial $10,000 donation from the supermarket chain that will go toward food, shelter and emotional support for those affected. People can donate to the campaign at their local Price Chopper store or online at www.redcross.org.
United Way is seeking donations, as well. Contributions to the United Way Hurricane Sandy Fund will be used by local United Ways in New York, New Jersey and other East Coast states affected by the storm. Donations can be made online at www.uwsandyrecovery.org.
New York City’s transportation services are slowly flickering to life again, with subway service resuming on some lines. In the Capital Region, transportation services are returning to normal.
Amtrak began taking reservations for modified service Thursday evening between New York City and destinations south, but service to and from the city is still subject to delay while repairs continue, officials said.
Maple Leaf trains began operating again between Albany-Rensselaer and Toronto. Lake Shore Limited trains began operating again between Albany-Rensselaer, Chicago and Boston.
Amtrak officials said Thursday it’s unknown when service would be restored for its Empire Service trains between New York City and Buffalo-Niagara Falls, Adirondack (Trains 68 and 69) to and from Montreal, or Ethan Allen Express (Trains 290 and 291) to and from Rutland, Vt.
Megabus has restored its service from Albany-Rensselaer to New York City.