Help for decimated Inwood residents

Five Towns Community Center offers needed supplies


The devastation that Hurricane Sandy caused to residents on Cheshire Road and the surrounding streets in Inwood is still apparent more than two weeks later as many remain busy cleaning out their homes, salvaging what they can and some are still without power.

But despite the destruction, Five Towns Community Center Director Peter Visconti and Center counselor Felipe Plaza handed out blankets, flashlights, food, water, batteries and cleaning supplies on Monday afternoon, giving residents like Ralph Cancelliere some relief.

Cancelliere, an 11-year Inwood resident, has no heat and has been running a generator to power his Cheshire Road home since last week. “We’ve been patiently waiting for electricity,” he said. “In time, hopefully if everybody comes through we’ll be able to return to normal.”

Hasmukh Patel, who lives two houses down from Cancelliere, is not as hopeful. Not only does he not have heat or power but also his furniture, carpet and boiler, among other things, are destroyed. “They’re very expensive to replace,” he said. “We have a very long way to go and I don’t know how long it will be. I can’t even imagine.”

Down the street on Meadow Road, Artie Crawford, the director of Bethel AME Church Food Pantry in Rockaway Beach, was busy bailing out the more than four feet of water from his basement in buckets while his wife, Barbara, swept upstairs. Despite losing two cars and dozens of personal possessions, he is grateful that his family is safe.

“We all know each other around here and look out for each other,” he said about the community. “You do what you have to do even though there’s not a lot you can do.”

As Town of Hempstead Highway Department workers cleared fallen trees from properties and two Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) workers went from home to home assessing the damage, Vinny Tore, another Cheshire Road resident, said he’s lucky for the help that Visconti and Plaza provided. “There are disasters in other countries and they don’t have assistance and that’s what makes this country great,” he said. “In a lot of ways we’re fortunate because there are people a lot worse off who lost their homes and family members; I’m wishing everybody the best.”

When their supplies started dwindling, Plaza and Visconti assured residents they would be back with more. The pair, according to Cancelliere, was the first to provide supplies to the neighborhood. “We won’t be the last,” Plaza assured Cancelliere. “If nobody is coming out here, we will.”