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Sandy's aftermath reverberates in Amherst

AMHERST - More than 200 miles away in the Far Rockaway area of Queens, N.Y., relatives of an Amherst family are struggling to find their way after Hurricane Sandy.

"It is not good," local resident Jack Greene said of the situation. "I have a cousin in Island Park, N.Y., and I have been told that the town's elementary school has washed away."

Greene has another cousin in Belle Harbor, N.Y., who has been relocated from his home, which currently has no electricity. His relatives had to walk through five feet of water to rescue a New York neighbor stranded on a porch, according to Greene.

"Many of these people have lost their homes. They have lost everything," said Greene, who has two sons who attend Amherst Middle School. "They are in desperate need of many items, everything you can think of."

Greene's wife, Mary Jo, is working with the Amherst Middle School Student Council and The Not So Secret Service club at the school to organize a massive donation drive to help the residents in the Far Rockaway area.

"Right now, these people are struggling. They need all of the help they can get," said Greene, reflecting on the Rockaway Beach where he spent his summers as a child. "The whole boardwalk has been washed away. It is so sad," he added.

The Greene family is asking residents from throughout southern New Hampshire to consider contributing to the donation drive. Specific items being sought include: batteries (C and D), non-perishable food, hats, gloves, scarves, work gloves, construction masks, contractor garbage bags, cleaning supplies such as mops, bleach, sponges, buckets, large candles, paper towels, toilet paper, feminine products, blankets and baby supplies such as diapers, wipes, food, formula and bottles.

Principal Porter Dodge said the students at Amherst Middle School are eager to help in whatever way possible, expressing concern about the victims of last week's devastating storm. "Our kids want to get involved. We live in an excellent community that does a lot of charitable work," explained Dodge.

Previously, the school raised $15,000 for Hurricane Katrina victims, and about $17,000 for communities hit by the Asian tsunami in 2004. Now, the students want to help those people impacted by the recent storm in New York.

"Right now is when these people need the help, so we really need to get this organized right away," said Dodge. Donations will be collected in boxes placed inside the front entrance of the school, 14 Cross Road, until Tuesday. Donated items will be packaged and shipped to the St. Francis DeSales Church in Belle Harbor, N.Y., which is serving as a drop-off and donation center.

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Kimberly Houghton may be reached at

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