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Issue 615

11/21/2012 at 3:36pm

Barrier Island by Eric PierFrom One Barrier
Island To Another

Islanders are well aware that when barrier islands do their job –protecting the mainland --- they often suffer more damage in weather events than the mainland. So Fort Myers Beach residents can sympathize with Long Beach, New York residents who took the brunt of Hurricane Sandy and were one of the hardest hit areas of New York.

Long Beach is a town of 33,000 that sits on Long Beach Barrier Island along the southern coast of Long Island. When Sandy hit, it washed the Atlantic Ocean over a 10-foot dune that protected some areas of town and battered the entire town with flooding and winds. While no one was killed in Long Beach, sand covered the roads, feet deep in some spots, homes were damaged or destroyed. Roads were washed away, homes lost to fire, cars lost to salt water flooding. Their 2-mile boardwalk is completely gone. No water, No sewer for days.

Barrier island residents can feel their pain.

The Long Beach School District has six schools: four elementary schools, one middle school and one high school. Students are scattered throughout the area after Sandy, many of them living in temporary housing situations until their homes are once again habitable. District officials scrambled to locate students and plan how to get them to and from school. Two weeks after Sandy, the district held classes for the first time this past Monday. District officials were surprised when 90% of high school students, 80% of middle school and 70% of elementary students reported for classes in the doubled-up classrooms.

Islander Corri Francisco grew up in Long Beach and has grandchildren who attend Long Beach schools. She is heading up a local effort to help – one barrier island to another. Her grandson attended Beach School several years ago before the family moved to Long Beach. He is in high school there now while Francisco’s granddaughter attended one of the elementary schools that sustained severe damage.

"Oh my gosh, it’s just horrific there!”

Some of her family members have doubled up with 10 people living on one floor of a two-floor house. The first floor was flooded. And all their vehicles were lost. Her grandkids are glad to be back in school, but are feeling the space crunch.

"It’s really crowded!” they tell her.

She says that right now the Long Beach schools are in dire need of school supplies. The first floor classrooms in the elementary and middle schools were wiped out. Libraries were also flooded in all school buildings as were gym floors.

Francisco shared a list of needs from a teacher in the district:

-Marble (composition) notebooks, pocket folders, paper clips, pens, pencils, highlighters, binders, legal pads and markers

-Fiction and non-fiction books for the library

-Amazon, Target or Staples gift cards

The teacher writes, "It would be great if someone wants to donate a marathon – 26 of notebooks, pocket folders or any of the supplies mentioned. If someone is willing to adopt a classroom - furniture and technology are needed too.”

Any islanders who wish to donate can do so at Lbeach.org via PayPal. If you have items to donate, contact Corri Francisco at 878-8580. Any items donated will have to be shipped, so consider a cash donation to help her with shipping.

As Barrier Islanders, we know what it’s like when a wall of wind and water devastate your town. If you can help, let’s let Long Beach know that Fort Myers Beach cares.

Missy Layfield