Operation Northern, Southern Comfort seek to fill truck with goods for hurricane relief

— “Our plan right now is to help wherever needed,” Kristin Andrzejewski said. “In the past, we had a pickup truck, and we helped the Occupy Sandy people deliver and transport goods because they don’t have a steady stream of transportation.”

Kristin said the situation is still tenuous in many neighborhoods.

“Some parts are pretty bad,” she said. “There are still people without power, people waiting in long lines for hours for a hot meal.”

While this trip is focused on filling the gaps and helping where needed, Norm Andrzejewski said Operation Sandyland hopes to develop a relationship with local agencies so that they can set up a more permanent presence in the area.

“Right now we’re focusing on finding a partner agency, someone that can provide a floor for us to sleep on, any other amenities that can be added on to that, a kitchen or what have you,” he said. “We’re hopeful that we can get into a relationship that lasts longer than a couple of weeks.”

Andrzejewski said it was likely the rebuilding process would take years.

“I think we’re looking at a five-year horizon here, at least,” he said. “We’ll see.”

Andrzejewski did not expect New York and New Jersey to be as neglected as New Orleans or St. Bernard Parish, however.

“There was an incompetent FEMA in 2006. I suspect that some of the money that was thrown at [victims of Katrina] was wasted, based on some of the stories we heard from people who got money who were intending to use to redo homes. They got ripped off one way or another. But I hope we learned a lesson from that,” he said. “Frankly, and I shouldn’t say this, but I will, I think the administration of things in New York and New Jersey is very different from the administration of things in Louisiana and Mississippi. I think the window will be shorter here. It’s going to happen here, but it’s a five-year deal, at least, to get back where we used to be.”

And if there’s anyone in a position to help get those areas back on their feet, it’s the volunteers of ONC and OSC.

“What makes Operation Southern Comfort and Northern Comfort — Operation Sandyland, as I’m calling it — what makes us different is that we realize that,” Andrzejewski said. “We’re not going to go once or twice and say, ‘Well, that was fun.’ We’re in it for the long term.”

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