In the months following Hurricane Sandy, West Fulton Street resident Doug O’Grady spent his days volunteering and helping his fellow Long Beach residents clean out and gut their homes.
O’Grady — a New York City Carpenters Local Union 45 trustee — put the word out on Facebook that he was assembling teams to help residents gut their flooded homes, and would organize hundreds of volunteers at the Waldbaum’s parking lot each morning. O’Grady and his crew eventually helped clean out approximately 200 Sandy-damaged houses, a service that he provided at no expense to homeowners and as he dealt with damage to his own home. He also helped local organizations such as the Knights of Columbus and the MLK Center obtain supplies and donations.
“Since the storm, I kept going to people’s houses, to the point where there were no more calls,” he said. “I did so many homes and got so much work done — but some people just disappeared and never came back because either their homes are so wrecked and full of mold or they need money to rebuild.”
Now, O’Grady said that he is looking to help people return home, and has launched a non-profit organization — The Mohawk Avenue Saint Foundation — that will provide grants to struggling Long Beach and Island Park residents as they rebuild. The foundation was launched in January, and O’Grady said that initial grants of up to $5,000 will be used to help offset the costs for plumbing, electric and HVAC units to help residents move back in.
“Those items are costly — but if I can get them grants, maybe they can make their house into more of a home,” O’Grady said. “They’re getting insurance, but it’s coming up so short that the insurance companies drag them on.”
O’Grady, a lifelong Long Beach resident, said that his main goal is to help residents come home, and he is holding a fundraiser at Bridgeview Yacht Club on May 16 to help raise money for the organization, which is named after the street he grew up on — Mohawk Avenue in East Atlantic Beach — and in memory of his late brother, Justin, and his late mother and father.