The instant Hurricane Sandy New York, Ditmas Park resident Miro Gal knew that it would be important to extend a hand and do what he could to help those personally affected.
"We started three days after the storm happened," Gal said, noting that he, along with the owners of Mimi's Hummus, the Castelo Plan and Sycamore began collecting and dispatching 25 busses, pick up trucks, vans and private cars packed with supplies and food to Staten Island, Coney Island, Gerritsen Beach and the Rockaways.
After two weeks, as life began to get back to normal, Gal's partners had to return to their businesses, but that did not mean the effort was over.
"At that point I continued to do it on my own," he said.
Gal continued to deliver collected items to support groups and relief stations in neighborhoods in the Rockaways and Gerritsen Beach.
"People were responding to our emails and phone calls and messages, and were dropping off a lot of supplies-- food, clothes, blankets, coats, batteries, candles -- everything people need for their everyday life," Gal said. "I've also picked up food in Ditmas Park, Park Slope and Prospect Heights."
Gal, an artist and art professor at the School of Visual Arts, has also taken on a leadership position in the volunteer effort.
"I initiated a swap program between various relief stations," he said. "If I come to one station and find they have too much of one thing and not another, I'll call others and based on a trust system, pick up and exchange supplies. We've established a very nice system of bartering and swapping that levels out the playing fields."
But the needs of those affected by Sandy are far from being satisfied, Gal said.
"Support has begun to wind down, and the unfortunate thing is the need is only growing," he said.
He noted supplies and hot meals are needed on a daily basis.
"A lot of these communities don't have power and don't have gas," he said.
He noted that cleaning supplies, brooms, masks and working gloves are also greatly needed.
Items can be left on Gal's porch at 235 Stratford Rd., and those interested in leaving hot food should call 917-414-5861 to coordinate a drop-off time.