To aid upstate victims of Tropical Storm Irene who suffered devastating losses due to flooding and fire, Southampton Town locals are collecting donations of food and other essentials, as well as furniture and appliances, to get families back on their feet.
Falkowski Farm in Bridgehampton, at 720 Butter Lane across from the , will have a cargo unit out by the road starting at noon Tuesday to accept drop-offs. Additionally, Phil Bucking is accepting donations at Sag Harbor Garden Center at 11 Spring Street, inside Sag Harbor’s Historic Train Depot.
“Initially we’re looking for food, water, bleach and clothing,” said David Falkowski, who is coordinating efforts at Falkowski Farm. He emphasized that it is essential the clothes be usable, cleaned, folded and labeled, explaining that the affected towns do not have the facilities available to sort clothing donations once they arrive. “This stuff needs to be presorted and ready to hit the ground up there,” he said.
Falkowski said many homes were flooded with 12 to 15 feet of water, with water coming through the floorboards of their second stories.
“It’s not as wide spread as [Hurricane] Katrina, but it’s as devastating,” he said, adding that the towns are still working on getting roads cleared so they can get around, let alone restoring electricity.
He is also collecting furniture and appliances to ship upstate. “This is a great time of year for that, because all of the rentals are emptying out,” he said.
Falkowski said farmers lost their crops to flooding and some lost barns to fire because the flooding caused hay to get wet and begin to compost, which caused it to combust.
The donations will be shipped to Middleburgh, Blenheim and Schoharie in Schoharie County.
Once the cargo unit is filled, it will be shipped off and another will take its place. “We have a 20 footer,” Falkowski said. “I have a feeling this thing is going to fill up really quick.” Local contractor Steven Mezynieski has volunteered to truck the container up north.
For cash donations, Falkowski said checks may be written out to with the memo “flood relief,” and mailed to him at David Falkowski, 7 Fordham Road, Sag Harbor, NY 11963. The money will pay for transportation costs, and what’s left over will be split among the municipalities, he said.
The donation drive will be ongoing for weeks and volunteers are needed, Falkowski said.
Bucking will be accepting donations till Wednesday afternoon at the Sag Harbor Garden Center. That night, he’ll head to Prattsville in Greene County.
He is taking bottled water, canned food, clean clothes, work gloves, extension cords, toiletries and “pretty much anything else you’d think people would need who pretty much lost everything.”
He’ll be dropping the donations off at NBT Bank in Grand Gorge. “I’m just going to be taking my pickup truck, so I don’t have a huge amount of room,” he noted.
“One of the more interesting things they’re looking for is wax paper,” he added, explaining that libraries that were flooded are using the wax paper to save water-damaged books.
Falkowski said he got involved in relief efforts because his father, John Falkowski, retired to Cobleskill. “He’s right there in the middle of it,” he said. While a creek reached halfway up his yard during the tropical storm, his home was spared flood damage.
Bucking has a personal connection as well.
“We vacation in that area and we’re right there, so I personally know a lot of people in the area,” he said.