Volunteers help the Rockaways following superstorm

(CBS News) ROCKAWAYS, NY - In parts of the northeast this weekend, patience with the slow pace of recovery from superstorm Sandy is running as low as gasoline and power.

More than 200,000 homes and businesses in New York and New Jersey remain without power tonight, including nearly 138,000 on Long Island, where hundreds of angry people demonstrated outside the headquarters of the local power authority for a second straight day.

With utilities and public agencies strained to the breaking point, volunteers are rushing to fill the gap.

Twelve days ago, Sandy slammed into the Rockaways. The storm drowned everything here except hope.

Frustrated residents protest outside NY utility
Volunteers head for flood-damaged N.Y. areas
Jersey Shore residents return to damaged homes

Jaime Jordan and her sister Jilliene, Rockaways born and bred, have been working relentlessly to save it. Before FEMA, before the Red Cross, before any assistance arrived, the Jordan sisters organized volunteers to help reclaim the community.

John McCann's basement for example -- eight feet of saltwater destroyed it. On Saturday, four volunteers helped McCann strip it bare to prevent mold. They were sent by the Jordan sisters.

"They took the bull by the horns and they've been running with it ever since," said McCann.

"When we sent volunteers," said Jilliene, "we would say, 'You're going to Gloria's house. Her husband passed away and she's there all by herself.' And the word spread like wildfire."

Howard Schneider is glad it did. Sandy hit him hard. "When we come here, sometimes there are strangers in our house just digging," said Schneider.

A phalanx of volunteers dug the beach out of Schneider's basement. He said never in his life has he hugged so many strangers.

"What these volunteers have done just today alone would have taken me five months to do," said Schneider.

The Jordan sisters take no bows for what they're doing. They credit a citywide community spirit.

"I'm astounded by the response from New York," said Jaime. "How they came down in droves, it's overwhelming, and frankly astounding that they they would come down here and want to do this kind of work."

Jaime and Jilliene Jordan say they'll thank everyone properly next summer with a big Memorial Day party on their reclaimed beach.

  • Tony Guida

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