2013-02-07 / Columnists

Babylon News & Muse

by Mary Gallagher

IT’S NOT OVER!

Babylon Helps, a sort of super community service group in Babylon Village, wants to remind people all over the United States that Hurricane Sandy is not over!the storm that FEMA workers tell us was much worse than Hurricane Katrina is still raging. he winds have died down; the ocean and the Bay have receded to more normal levels.the Babylon Village Sanitation department did such an outstanding job in the area south of Montauk Highway that strangers entering the area would say, “Well, I guess the rumors were wrong…this area looksffne.” Look again.the vehicles lining the streets are contractors: plumbers, electricians, tile layers, roofers… and dumpsters. Piles of discarded plywood, drywall, roofing material and siding lay in side yards, while their replacements fill garages.the fact that almost every car looks new is not a sign of affuence, but of the fact that salt water has ruined all the pre-existing cars. Some cars have had to be replaced twice due to November and December tidal surges. But the real extent of the damage is visible at night, when you drive down a street of 40 homes and realize that 28 of them are still empty. Worse, that some of the homes without heat and electric in this freezing weather are still occupied by families because there is no other place to li ve.

What about when your child wants to get a few neighboring children together and it means an hour’s worth of phone calls and driving to assemallow ble four kids whose home are on the same street. Babylon Helps was born the week after the hurricane. It consists of members from the American Legion, several Babylon churches, the Babylon Chamber of Commerce, the Babylon Lions Club, Babylon Pilot Club, Babylon Rotary Club, Babylon Schools and PTA, Babylon Women’s Club, the First Presbyterian Church, St. Joseph’s Church Outreach, the Family Service League and Great Guy Mike Greene. All of these groups and more are working cooperatively together to try and help Babylon rebuild.

When Babylon Helpsfirst came together, it was meant to be a short-term coalition, but members have slowly realized that this will be a much longer effort. Babylon Helps will not be done with its work until every family is back in its home and Babylon is prepared for the next bad storm.

Ironically, there is a blessing from the storm and its hardships. People have come out of their homes and met their neighbors, many for thefirst time!ffere is a spirit of cooperation amongthevictimsandtheyarehelpingoneanother. Sadly, there is another lesson being learned. FEMA is a slow, unwieldy organization.the Red Cross has hourly ads on television but they haven’t been seen since early November. Insurance companies are not your good neighbor. Perhaps the saddest thing of all is that the victims think that everyone north of Montauk Highway has forgotten them. You can see an occasional feature on television or article in local papers.

Nationally, you still hear about Katrina, but Sandy is starting to disappear from the media. It’s essential that we do not the rest of Long Island and the U.S. to forget Babylon and all the other communities victimized by Sandy. the Babylon Women’s Club is holding a Casino Night on Feb. 22 at the Bergen Point Country Club. In addition to the casino, there will be an open bar and catering by Gemelli’s. For information and tickets go to BabylonVillage- Womens-Club.com.

Some good news, Donna Ryan has moved back to Babylon, temporarily residing in the former Goose Bay (now Fairfield) apartments on Prospect Street. Neighbors Helping Neighbors will be providing hot food and supplies for hurricane victims at the First Presbyterian Church on East Main Street this Saturday from 11 to 4. ffe Pilot Club has distributed almost $120,000 in grants to hurricane victims in Babylon, West Babylon, and Lindenhurst. Most of these grants were matched by the Family Service League.

Wonderful to see Carney McGuire out and about this week after she broke her hip! Nothing keeps Carney down!

BE CAREFUL WHEN PARKING ON MAIN STREET AFTER 6 p.m. Many of the signs have been changed to allow only one hour parking between 6 p.m. and midnight. Too bad if you want to see a movie or enjoy dinner at a restaurant there.

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