In the days after Sandy, Long Beach established its indoor ice rink as a collection point for relief supplies, also making it a distribution center for its residents. Emergency generators were brought in for power. The ice rink was as well-organized as a Target store, with specified loading docks and hundreds of volunteers flocking in from around the country to assist. There were New York State Troopers on site, National Guardsmen and other federal employees in addition to Long Beach’s own. Things were civilized, and it became clear to residents where they had to go for supplies and information, even when most of the city appeared to be in shambles. FEMA and insurance companies set up shop around the ice rink, where any necessary information or services could be found.
Oceanside, meanwhile, had a host of tired firefighters and community leaders, many of whom lost their own homes and were trying to wrap their head around the crisis without being physically able to take much action, because, without power, they still had other responsibilities to their families, employers and in many cases, the schools or fire department.
Oceanside’s collection efforts were meager in comparison to Long Beach because there were no individuals able to organize large-scale collection sites and manage the distribution of relief supplies.
There was little outside help. FEMA decided to set up shop in Oceanside Park, located at the edge of town where the thousands of people with flooded cars would never be able to get. Thousands more, stuck without power, never even knew that this help existed.