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Staten Islanders Help Each Other Recover From Sandy; Relief Fund Set Up For Residents Of The Borough

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Neighbors have been helping neighbors since Sandy hammered Staten Island.

People have been streaming into New Dorp High School all day donating what they can to help their neighbors who lost everything in Sandy.

"We have hairbrushes, q-tips, baby wipes, toothpaste, toothbrushes," one woman told WCBS 880's Peter Haskell.

"We brought clothes and water and toiletries and toilet paper," another volunteer said.

WCBS 880's Peter Haskell reports


Some residents said they felt compelled to help since they were fortunate enough to be spared major damage.

"Oh my gosh, it's horrible. I drove around yesterday and I've never seen anything like this before in my life. It's like a third-world country," one woman told Haskell. "it just felt good to help others in need."

Another woman told Haskell that bringing bottled water was the least she could do in the face of the devastation.

"It's the right thing to do as a human being. I have students who have no homes, so anything I can do for them of course we'll do," the woman said.

A relief fund has been created for the residents of Staten Island and other hard-hit areas in the wake of superstorm Sandy.

The Stephen Siller Tunnel To Towers Foundation was created in the memory of former FDNY firefighter Stephen Siller who ran through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel in 60 pounds of gear to respond on 9/11. Siller died at the World Trade Center.

WCBS 880's Peter Haskell reports


Donations given to will immediately be used to buy water and food for those coping with the after effect of the storm, the foundation said.

"Because we know about loss, we know about putting organizations together," Tunnel to Towers founder Frank Siller told Haskell. "And I promise you that our foundation will be good caretakers of every penny that comes in."

Siller said while FEMA and the Red Cross are doing great work to help over the long-term, the funds collected by the Stephen Siller Foundation will be available to those in need within hours.

"We will fill the voids that the Red Cross cannot fill and I promise you that on the spirit of my brother," Siller said.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is the chairman of the Tunnel To Towers Run and said this storm relief effort is a natural move for the organization committed to helping those on the front lines.

"If you want to make sure it gets to the people right here that are your neighbors, then the Siller Foundation can do that," Giuliani told Haskell.

1010 WINS' Glenn Schuck reports


The former mayor toured Staten Island to survey the damage.

"And to remember that these were the communities that were the most affected also by Sept. 11 hits particularly close to my heart," Giuliani said. "It breaks your heart to see tremendous devastation."

MORE: Click Here For Information On Donating To Tunnel To Towers Foundation

"We want them to know that there are a lot of people out there that understand what they're going through. I know one of the main things people need is to know they're not alone," Giuliani told 1010 WINS' Glenn Schuck.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars poured into the Stephen Siller Tunnel To Towers Foundation in the first hour after the relief effort was announced.

Utility trucks lined up on Staten Island
Utility trucks lined up on Staten Island - Nov. 2, 2012 (credit: Laura Cala / WCBS 880)

Siller's brother said the fundraising and relief effort honors the spirit of his brother. The foundation will provide relief funds to some of the hardest hit areas immediately.

"Let me tell you what we can do. We can get to the people, right to the people that are in need. The day we have the Tunnel to Towers Run, we have 2,500 volunteers ready to step up and help," Siller told Schuck.

WEB EXTRA: Find Out How To Help

Frank Siller set up the foundation more than a decade ago to help wounded veterans and first responders. The organization's big annual fundraising event, the 5K Tunnel To Towers Run, was held in late September.

"People have to eat and people have to have their water and they have to have shelter and these are the main concerns that we have right now," Siller told Haskell.

Donors can indicate if they want their money to help at a particular location like Staten Island, Breezy Point or the Jersey Shore.

Con Edison announced Friday afternoon that 84,000 customers on Staten Island have had their power restored.

In all, more than 139,000 customers in the borough lost power from Sandy.

Con Ed said with the help of outside contractors, the utility is working around the clock to restore power to all customers as quickly as possible.

In New Dorp, lines stretched around the corner as people tried to fill up their cars or hand-held gas tanks.

Some were waiting to get gas to run their generators, many of which have been running since Monday.

Residents waiting in line described a variety of damage, from completely destroyed homes to just a few trees down.

"I don't think we were prepared for what happened down here, though," a New Dorp resident told CBS 2's John Slattery.

"There's people here that lost everything. Thank God I did alright," another man told Slattery.

Some on line said they had been waiting to fill up for three hours.

The Hess station capped customers at $40 worth of gas, some residents told Slattery.

And an alleged looter was arrested on Friday, after residents complained the man was breaking into destroyed homes looking for whatever was left behind, Slattery reported.

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