Wrecked shops, flooded streets and thousands of displaced families.
The images coming out of southeast Texas following Harvey’s wrath are familiar to New Yorkers who suffered through superstorm Sandy. The devastation has become a rallying cry for New York business owners — from the boardwalk to the ballfield — who want to reciprocate the help they received from strangers nearly five years ago.
“People took care of us, now it’s our time to take care of others,” said Billy Harner, communications director for the Brooklyn Cyclones.
The Coney Island team is among the many New York organizations who are putting together charity promotions to raise funds for the affected region. The team plans to donate all proceeds of its $15 tickets for the final game of the season on Sept. 7 against the Staten Island Yankees.
Harner said the organization is still working to determine which charity the cash will be going to, but they have been in talks with minor league teams in Texas to see what is most needed.
He recalled other minor league organizations did best when they had direct coordination helping them.
“There were teams in Pennsylvania that were filling up gas canisters and bringing them up here,” he said.
Alexandra Silversmith, executive director for the Alliance of Coney Island, agreed and said that Boardwalk businesses that participate in a Sept. 9 charity event will focus their efforts on raising money.
Participants and other planning details are still being worked out, but Silversmith said it was crucial the Texas victims received cash first instead of supplies, based on her Sandy experience.
“The [additional] cost of transporting [goods] would be better served for sending money down there,” she said.
City Council members Mark Treyger and Donovan Richards, who represent some of the hardest hit neighborhoods in Brooklyn and south Queens respectively, are set to hold a rally with area nonprofits outside City Hall on Thursday to encourage New Yorkers to find ways to donate.
Some restaurant owners said they had little connection to Texas or experiencing natural disasters, but the news of Harvey was more than enough to spur them into action. Vladimir Borodin, operating partner of Burger and Lobster, said he needed to do something for the families.
Both the Times Square and 19th Street locations of the restaurant will be donating $1 for every BBQ Burger purchased to the Red Cross for the next two weeks.
“We, being in the restaurant industry, have a responsibility to give back to the community,” he said. “We are all united when we see news like this.”
Borodin said he would consider continuing the charity promotion through September. City business leaders say they expect more stores to begin chipping in to Texas relief efforts in the months to come.
Thomas Grech, executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, said he has been trying to contact his Houston counterparts about their specific needs and is waiting for them to assess the damage. He said the chamber’s members want to provide relief in the most effective ways possible, whether that means cash donations or purchasing supplies.
“I’m hoping once I can get through to them and see what they need, I can immediately mobilize our members,” he said.