Vermonter helps Sandy victims pick up pieces
BRATTLEBORO — Bonnie Dickey of Brattleboro is exhausted.
Two months ago she went to Baton Rouge, La., with the Vermont and New Hampshire Upper Valley Region Red Cross to assist Hurricane Issac victims. On Sunday, she returned home from New York, her second assignment, where she helped residents on Long Island recover from Hurricane Sandy.
The superstorm swept through the New Jersey, New York and Connecticut on Oct. 29, causing billions of dollars in damage across the northeast. Dickey was one of nine Vermont and New Hampshire volunteers to travel to the devastated area.
Dickey said Issac caused major flooding in the Mississippi Delta communities. But the devastation that Sandy left behind was much worse.
“The devastation was indescribable. New York residents want people to know that things haven't ended just because it's not on the evening news anymore. There's still people without power, and in some cases people are struggling to get food,” she said.
In Louisiana, Dickey drove an emergency response vehicle and distributed food to American Red Cross shelters. This time, she
was in charge of registration at a disaster relief shelter.
Stationed in Levittown, N.Y., Dickey was responsible for documenting arrivals, obtaining information and keeping track of numbers.
The shelter operated for two weeks and served an average of a 130 people per day, according to Dickey. Many were local residents but others came from as far as Yonkers, N.Y. The shelter also assisted a group of tourists from Kansas who were displaced by the hurricane while visiting the state.
By Sunday, power was restored to several Long Island communities. The American Red Cross ceased shelter operations but many people were without a place to stay.
Some were transferred to other shelters or found family members to stay with. Others went home, even though they lacked power.
Dickey took great pride in her work on Long Island. She took great pride in reuniting a daughter with her father at the shelter after she had not heard from him in days.
Prior to leaving, Dickey went to Long Beach to get a first-hand look at the devastation. She said she saw piles of sand, tires and various debris as far as her eye could see.
At one home, Dickey saw front-end loaders removing 7 feet of sand from a basement. At other homes she saw piles of discarded furniture, insulation and mattresses in the streets.
“You don't get over it in a hurry. It was apocalyptic,” Dickey said. “We worked 12 to 14 hour days. It was so unbelievable.”
To donate to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts visit www.redcrossvtnhuv.org.
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