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Know Your Rights
Source: Times Ledger
Subject: Immigration
Type: Media Coverage

Lawmakers launch drives

Western Queens elected officials say their offices have filled up with donations multiple times over from community members for south Queens neighborhoods devastated by Superstorm Sandy last week.

“It has been overwhelming and it is the absolute best thing about the neighborhoods that I represent and the people that I represent,” said City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside).

Residents in communities like Astoria, Jackson Heights and Sunnyside have collected food, clothing and other supplies for the Rockaways, Broad Channel, Howard Beach and beyond, which suffered severe damage in the hurricane that hit Oct. 29-30.

Legislators like Van Bramer, City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst) and state Sens. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) and Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) have held drives out of their offices as have civic groups in Jackson Heights.

“We have a basement full of clothing and canned food,” said Ana Maria Archila, co-director of the Jackson Heights-based immigration advocacy group Make the Road New York. “It’s been a really remarkable outpouring of support from people in the neighborhood.”

Peralta said Monday he took a collective $700 of groceries from Food Bazar and Met Food Market, plus food and other items from drop-off sites across his district to Howard Beach and Far Rockaway.

Van Bramer had advertised his Sunnyside district office as open to taking donations Friday and Saturday. He said residents still brought items Sunday and that Sunday and Monday more than 400 people had come bearing donations for those in the Rockaways.

“What I saw on Saturday I’ve never seen before,” he said. “Queens Boulevard was a sea of people dropping off supplies.”

Vallone said Monday that donations had been coming into his office every 10 seconds. While he and his staff were all out of gas due to the shortages and could not take the supplies themselves, the FDNY and the Corona Volunteer Ambulance Corps lent trucks for the purpose.

“People aren’t even calling with problems that they’ve had regarding trees down,” Vallone said. “They’ve been calling asking if they can help, and I think that says a lot about this community.”

The councilman said gas shortages remain a problem in the district. He said guns have been pulled on people at two gas stations on Astoria Boulevard in recent days. He said he was outraged the federal government did not prepare for the gas shortages and that big trees still rested against some houses Monday when a nor’easter was predicted for Wednesday.

“A week after a hurricane is inexcusable,” he said.

Van Bramer said Con Edison has come to Long Island City to restore electricity to some of the condominiums that lost it during the storm surge flooding released by the hurricane.

“We won’t stop fighting until all the power is restored,” he said.

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