An Islandia-based nonprofit is seeking help to rebuild its donation center and warehouse after Hurricane Sandy's devastation.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island workers showed up to work in the days following Sandy to find the storm had severely damaged the back of its offices, destroying its donation center.
Susan Samaroo, chief operation officer for BBBS of LI, said she had a difficult time coming to grips with the storm's damage.
"I received a text on Tuesday morning that the building had collapsed. I couldn't understand what it meant, it's not like we have trees here. It had collapsed, but it seemed like a structurally sound building," Samaroo said.
Hurricane Sandy's strong wind gusts had ripped one-third of the roof off the building and knocked over the building's cinder block walls, leaving a large pile of rubble and exposed steel beams where its donation center once was.
"It was such a sense of helplessness. When I came here and I actually saw it, I lost it. It was too much to look at," Samaroo said.
While Big Brother Big Sisters was given permission to re-enter the call center and offices in the front half of the building, the donate center in the back half of the building is unsafe for use.
The donation center plays a critical role in the nonprofit organization's operations, according to Samaroo. It is used to receive, sort and redistribute donated items to families with children in need. It's being rendered unusable crippled the nonprofit as it enters the holiday season, with no way of giving donated household items or toys to needy families.
"It's would be doable, for the warehouse part, if we could get temporary space to operate elsewhere until we can get this fixed," Samaroo said.
There are also approximately 70 Big Brother Big Sister employees, a mix of full-time and part-time staff, who have been temporarily placed out of work until the nonprofit can rebuild or find an alternate site for its donate center.
The nonprofit organization's two new delivery trucks for the donation center were spared. Both were parked behind the building, between the collapsed wall and a fence during Hurricane Sandy. If the cinder blocks had fallen the opposite direction, Samaroo said both trucks would have likely been severely damaged if not destroyed.