UPDATE Friday, November 2, 2012 -- Ruben Brown of the Red Cross in Atlanta said Friday that volunteers have now arrived in Broad Channel to offer assistance to people in that area. And the Red Cross in New York City released a statement that volunteers continue to expand their reach to additional communities, including Broad Channel. See the full statement below.
ATLANTA -- "Get help."
A desperate plea for help, sent in a text message from a family in an outlying area of New York City, made the woman in Atlanta who received the message shake with fear and determination.
Lori Borders in Atlanta received the text message Thursday from her grandson's wife. The family lives in south Queens in a small community on Jamaica Bay near JFK International Airport called Broad Channel.
Much of the community was destroyed by Superstorm Sandy.
"And I just saw them," Borders said of her family Thursday night, "so I know the devastation because I was just there for Labor Day, went inside their home. And [now] everything is gone."
The text message Borders received from her grandson's wife, Kelly Guirl, spurred her to action.
"need u to call red cross national guard. No one is coming. Please call and get help to broad channel"
Borders immediately began trying to call Guirl, and finally got through.
"No one, no one is coming," Borders said Guirl told her, "'the National Guard says there's looting, we're afraid, we're in danger.'"
But neither the National Guard nor the Red Cross had made it to Broad Channel, yet, and Guirl and her neighbors could not get through to them or anyone else involved with rescue and recovery operations.
Borders began calling authorities in Atlanta and New York trying to get Guirl's message to them.
"The only thing that's being done in Broad Channel is neighbors helping neighbors," Guirl told 11Alive News by phone Thursday. "It's just, this is the way this community is, everyone helps each other."
But even that neighborliness can only go so far in a community that's devastated.
"Oh, our house is a total loss," Guirl said. "And, you know, our home isn't even waterfront. And it became waterfront," in the storm's floods.
"There's no outside help yet," Guirl said, "no FEMA trucks, nobody bringing supplies to us, the trucks have been going right past."
She said the community needs everything, including bulldozers and dump trucks so they can start clearing their properties of the rubble that used to be their homes.
"We need water, and we need hot meals," Guirl said. "And now that there's no gasoline, nobody can actually get to a gas station so they can get out of anywhere" for supplies.
Broad Channel's volunteer fire department lost their truck -- it was destroyed in the storm. Their rescue vehicles ended up underwater, totalled.
Guirl's husband is active duty Navy and he's away at sea. She's alone with their two, pre-school children. They have been trying to find a hotel room. All hotel rooms are booked solid in the aftermath of the storm. One hotel in a nearby town has allowed them to wait there inside, in case a room opens up.
"I mean, they've been more than accommodating. They let us sit in the lounge all day today waiting to see, and trying to keep everyone warm. But there are a lot of us here" from Broad Channel waiting for rooms.
"We're very, very lucky," she said, as she talked of those who were killed, and their loved ones.
"Tomorrow night they may be sleeping in cots" somewhere, Borders said, "because everything is booked up. There's no gasoline, there's nowhere to go, banks are not open.... It will be a sleepless night again for me and for them, especially."
New York City did set up a generator to power a cell phone charging station for the area's residents.
"I don't believe the Red Cross or the National Guard or any of them have purposely not been there," Borders said, "I just think that it's just a catastrophe that is too large. They can't get to everyone. Try as they may. It will take days" or longer.
Thursday night, 11Alive News was able to get Lori Borders in touch with Ruben Brown of the Metropolitan Atlanta Chapter of the American Red Cross.
Brown told her that he would immediately be in touch with his contacts at the Red Cross in New York City to make sure they know of the needs in and around Broad Channel.
Borders said she is trying to get her family to Atlanta, to stay with her.
"What we need to focus on," Borders said as she tried to think of what else she can do for the people in the storm-damaged areas, "is like what my sign says." She pointed to the plaque on her kitchen wall, paraphrasing it. "'Those who are nearest to our heart is our family, nothing else matters more.' And, of course, I ask for abundant prayers from everyone."
Full statement issued by the Red Cross in New York City on Friday, November 2, 2012:
NEW YORK CITY, November 2, 2012 - A massive American Red Cross feeding effort is underway on Long Island to help those impacted by Superstorm Sandy. Volunteers in more than 30 vehicles are providing water, meals and snacks in the areas hardest hit by the storm. When we learn about neighborhoods that have needs, we are immediately putting plans in place to provide food, water, supplies and comfort to those who need help.
WHAT: The Red Cross is in communities right now offering assistance with more than 164,000 meals served so far. More than 3,300 disaster workers from all over the country are on the East Coast and more help is on the way.
WHO: American Red Cross disaster workers
WHEN: Friday, November 02, 2012
WHERE: Red Cross fixed feeding sites can be found in the following Long Island locations:
Cedar Creek Park, 3340 Merrick Road, Seaford, NY
Nickerson Beach Park, 880 Lido Blvd, Lido Beach, NY
Christoper Morley Park, 500 Searingtown Rd., Roslyn, NY
HL Dennison, 100 Veterans Memorial Hwy, Hauppauge, NY 11718
Riverhead County Center, 210 Center Drive, Riverhead, NY 11901
Mastic Firehouse, 1080 Mastic Rd., Mastic, NY 11950
Mobile feeding operations are underway today in the following neighborhoods:
Staten Island (SE):
Hugenot, Tottenville, Midland, New Dorp
Far Rockaway, Howard Beach, Hamilton, Broad Channel
Red Hook, Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Sheepshead Bay
Lower East Side, Chinatown, South Street, Wall Street
Long Island, Nassau:
Seaford, Long Beach
Long Island, Suffolk:
Amity Harbor, Oakdale, Lindenhurst
You can help people affected by disasters like Superstorm Sandy, as well as countless crises at home and around the world, by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance in response to disasters. Visit www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS. Contributions may also be sent to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.
Additional Red Cross donation information: redcross.org/ga/atlanta
More information and photo gallery from Broad Channel: Times Ledger Newspapers, Queens