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Flatlands vollies help first responders in need

Supply depot: The Gerritsen Beach Volunteer Fire Deptartment was ravaged by Hurricane Sandy, although the nearby Blue Star Mothers Hall was fortified by sandbags and spared from heavy flooding. It is now being used as a supply depot for donations being sent to residents in need.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

Brooklyn’s first responders are helping their own.

Volunteer ambulance crews from throughout the borough are flocking to the hurricane-wracked Gerrittsen Beach Volunteer Fire Department station house on Seba Avenue, providing necessary supplies to the flooded-out squad that continues to aid its devastated neighbors.

Rescuers abandoned the fire station on Monday night as volunteers scrambled to save the station’s fire engine and ambulance amidst rapidly-rising flood waters.

When they returned, they found their equipment either sodden with salt water or missing altogether.

But volunteers don’t believe the fire station was looted.

“I’m not going to sit here and say we were looted,” said Lieutenant Michael Castro of the Gerrittsen Beach Volunteer Fire Department. “Let’s say some of them were borrowed. Some items have been returned. But we’re used to working on the bare bones. We’re not thinking about ourselves. We’re thinking about them.”

Prior to Sandy’s arrival, Gerritsen Beach volunteers were able to fortify the nearby Blue Star Mothers Hall on Seba Avenue with sandbags.

Today, the facility — which was relatively unharmed compared to other parts of Gerritsen Beach — has been retrofitted to serve as a supply depot for the mountains of coats, blankets, food, and water that keep pouring in from surrounding areas. Most of the supplies are being brought in by the Flatlands Volunteer Ambulance Corps.

“We put a collection together,” said Marlene Sagiv-Bojmal of the Flatlands Volunteer Ambulance Corp. “We also have a collection going at the base right now; anyone who can donate clothes, blankets, canned goods, water, and that all goes directly to families hit by Hurricane Sandy.”

Meanwhile, the members of the Gerrittsen Beach Volunteer Fire Department have been busy pumping out flooded basements and preparing homes for the eventual return of electricity.

“One of our biggest fears is, when power does come up, how many houses are going to short circuit?” said Castro. “The last thing we need now are fires popping up.”

Anyone interested in providing donations can contact the Gerrittsen Beach Volunteer Fire Department at (718) 332-9292. Supplies can be donated at Blue Star Mothers Hall [43 Seba Ave. between Frank and Eaton courts in Gerritsen Beach].

Reach reporter Colin MIxson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4514.

Volunteers helping volunteers: Flatlands Volunteer Ambulance Members (from left) Marlene Sagiv-Bojmal, Irving Kaminsky, and Theresa Blumenthal hand over bags of supplies to Lieutenant Michael Castro of the Gerritsen Beach Volunteer Fire Department, which lost everything in the storm.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

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