The volunteers and first responders
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Murphy has since expanded his efforts, creating a not-for-profit, Sandy Help Home Recovery Fund Corp., to help homeowners who are under-insured rebuild. He also started Feet on the Street, in which volunteers help him distribute donations by going door to door.
“Doug and Bryan have, since the Tuesday after the storm, stepped up and helped people muck out and gut their homes,” said Michigan Street resident John McNally, an environmental program and communications officer for the Rauch Foundation, who called for more resources to assist the city’s cleanup effort at Vision Long Island’s Smart growth summit in November.
“When [O’Grady and Murphy] realized how great the need was, they reached out and started organizing others to help with this work. Their good deeds continue to this day … if ever there were symbols of selflessness and compassion for others, these two men are it.”
With the city in the dark, Facebook became a major source of information and a way to locate loved ones. Mandy Hession, Chris Musto and Kerri Tortorella began contributing information to LB Hurricane Info, a page launched by resident Patrick Quinn.
“The night of the storm, there were those of us who weren’t in Long Beach, who were on Facebook just watching what was happening,” said Hession, a 1994 graduate of Long Beach High who lives in Vermont. She explained that one of LB Hurricane Info’s biggest efforts was helping to reunite people with their loved ones. She had limited contact with her family in the first few days, and she used the page to connect with her father. Nearly 70 families were reunited, she said.
“I literally had a command center of iPads and two TVs going, with a ton of coffee,” recounted Musto, who evacuated to Port Jefferson, adding that the page’s minute-by-minute updates, a mix of news, weather and other reports, reached 500,000 people at its peak. “I was trying to create information, but not create panic,” he said.
The page has now evolved into the Long Reach Foundation, a nonprofit that will continue to help the city rebuild and direct relief efforts its way. “After this experience, seeing what one random Facebook page can do, it’s mind-blowing,” said Hession. “It still makes me cry.”