MOBILIZED FOR RELIEF
104COP Goes All Out On Storm Assistance
From cutting up fallen trees to bringing supplies to stormbattered areas of Queens to guarding lines at gas stations, the efforts of local residents and organizations in response to Hurricane Sandy were the focus of the 104th Precinct Civilian Observation Patrol’s (104COP) meeting last Thursday night, Nov. 8, at St. Pancras Pfeifer Hall in Glendale.
Frank Kotnik, 104COP president, publicly thanked his members and all others involved in the recovery process following the superstorm which struck the city on Oct. 29. In the hours after Sandy impacted the city with high winds, 104COP members— along with volunteers from groups such as the Glendale Volunteer Ambulance Corps (GVAC)— worked to cut up and remove about 50 trees which fell on roadways around the area in order to allow access for emergency vehicles.
As local organizations and elected officials held relief drives to bring food, clothing and other supplies to residents in the Rockaways, Howard Beach and Broad Channel, 104COP members were also front and center in helping to shuttle donations to the devastated neighborhoods.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am of the people who participated,” Kotnik said of “the humanitarian effort” of helping to transport goods to Breezy Point, Howard, Beach, Far Rockaway and Broad Channel.
“To see the devastation ... you watch it on TV and you just don’t get the same feel of it,” he added regarding the scenes he and other volunteer patrols witnessed in the storm-battered areas. “We’ve got to help those people.”
The storm relief effort is so extensive that 104COP has decided to suspend patrols of the area until further notice, announced 104COP Patrol Coordinator Elizabeth Delacruz. This will allow the organization to devote its resources toward continuing to supply and assist communities most affected by Sandy.
The patrol also earned high praise from Dori Pliska, a representative of City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley, who offered her gratitude for 104COP’s assistance in the legislator’s relief drive at The Shops at Atlas Park in Glendale. The drive itself was a tremendous success, but Pliska noted that “there’s still so much work to do.”
“We have more clothes than we know what to do with,” she said, adding that cleaning supplies are now the items most sought after by organizations to assist residents in cleaning up the mess Sandy left behind.
Members of 104COP were back at Atlas Park two days after their meeting to help send supplies down to the Rockaways and Howard Beach.
Assemblyman Mike Miller also thanked the patrol for their work on the storm relief effort, and he also offered gratitude to one of his staff members, Dorie Figliola, for helping to organize donation drives. He also spoke about the number of donations his office received or helped to coordinate from groups around the city and country.
“We had representatives from Jackson Heights go down with a lot of food to feed people” in the Rockaways, he said. On another occasion, a local woman brought down to the area hundreds of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for storm victims.
Groups from Chicago to California also contacted his office about sending over supplies to storm victims, Miller added.
Figliola expounded on the relief drive, noting that she worked closely with Barbara Stuchinski, president of the Forest Hills Community and Civic Association, and Alex Maureau of State Sen. Joseph Addabbo’s office in coordinating the program. Multiple donation drop-off points were set up around the area in order for supplies to be donated by residents without having to travel far.
“I can’t say enough about your efforts,” she said. “Everybody has come together and are working together ... We’re going to go the next step, and we’re doing it.”
“The support has been amazing,” added Ryan Gunning, GVAC president, who explained that groups from Buffalo and Indiana have shipped in valuable first responder tools for volunteer ambulance corps and patrols in southern Queens.
Also thanking 104COP at last Thursday’s session was Capt. John Travaglia, executive officer of the 104th Precinct, who noted that the volunteer patrol was instrumental in providing traffic control at gas lines near local service stations.
He noted that “hopefully the end is near” to the shortage with the city enacting its “odd-even” rationing program.
Kotnik noted that patrol members helped at gas lines at the Sunoco station at the corner of 73rd Place and Cooper Avenue and the Getty station located at the corner of 73rd Place and Central and Cooper avenues. During the Getty gas line—which formed right after the station received a shipment of fuel—members determined how many cars would be able to purchase gas and limited the gas line accordingly.
Instead of having drivers wait for hours to purchase gasoline only to be turned away once the supply ran out, the patrol president explained, 104COP members informed drivers at the back of the line in advance. Those drivers then left the line and went elsewhere, thus reducing traffic on nearby roadways.
Overall crime fell slightly around the 104th Precinct during the previous 28-day period recorded by CompStat, according to Travaglia. While robberies and felony assaults were higher for the period, burglaries, grand larcenies and auto thefts all decreased.
Kotnik also announced that the group received a $2,500 donation from the Kiwanis Club of Glendale. The golf outing fund-raiser held in October was also successful, though no final tally of the proceeds was available, he added.
The next 104COP meeting is scheduled to take place on Thursday, Dec. 13, at 8 p.m. at St. Pancras Pfeifer Hall, located at the corner of Myrtle Avenue and 68th Street in Glendale. For more information, call 1-718-497-1500.