Wantagh real estate broker Bryan Murphy knows first-hand the power of social media during a crisis, and he has put it to full use in the aftermath of the devastation left by Hurricane Sandy in Long Beach.
Murphy, a Long Beach resident and licensed associate broker with RE/MAX Innovations in Wantagh, established a special community Facebook “Sandy Help LB” page on Nov. 1, seeking volunteers to assist area homeowners and other victims of the hurricane in cleaning up. As a result, he has gathered dozens of volunteers to assist in cleaning out and gutting homes.
“Facebook actually saved lives in Long Beach,” Murphy said.
Murphy’s company RE/MAX Innovations was in the process of opening an office at 120 West Park Ave., Suite 103, in Long Beach when the hurricane struck and damaged the space.
“We had done all the work and had just put in the phone system,” Murphy said. “We were all ready to open on Nov. 1 and then the hurricane happened.”
Murphy said he was helping victims clean out their homes by dragging wet furniture to the curb when he thought that it would be wonderful if the cleanup could take place on a much grander scale. But he knew he needed many volunteers to accomplish this.
With RE/MAX Innovations owner/broker David Spiegel’s blessing, Murphy created the Facebook page, which has since drawn thousands of users, many offering to help out the victims of the hurricane.
“We wanted to lend a helping hand to all victims whose homes were devastated,” Murphy said. “These people have no electric, no cleaning drinking water or plumbing ... In many of these homes, everything had to go — the furniture, carpeting, sheet rock, everything.”
Murphy lives in Lafayette Terrace, at 370 West Broadway, which was damaged by the super storm, and has since been living with his mother in Rockville Centre. He said he has gathered plenty of volunteers, including several members of the Molloy College baseball team who will join the effort to assist victims at noon on Friday.
Murphy said that once the homes are cleaned out, they will need supplies like fresh sheet rock to be installed in these damaged buildings.
In both Long Beach and Wantagh, Spiegel opened his real estate offices for hurricane relief, providing donuts, coffee, Internet capabilities, computers, laptops, phone service and TV access to employees and members of the community. Spiegel has also gathered supplies such as garbage bags, gloves and shovels to help in the Sandy Help LB effort. In addition, he set up a phone number, (516) 282-7347, for local business owners who lack communications, in which RE/MAX Innovations receives their business calls and relays messages to them.
Murphy said he has friends who work with Converse and Nike who have gathered their employees to help volunteer in the cleanup effort and have donated gift cards to Home Depot to help residents rebuild.
The volunteer effort has been so widespread that even an 11-year-old girl from Connecticut, who has spent summer vacations in the area, donated the $198 she earned from a hot cocoa stand. And this has prompted many others from that area to donate supplies. “Yesterday we received two U-Haul trucks stuffed with supplies from there,” said Murphy.
Murphy’s Facebook page gives volunteers and homeowners the forum to ask about volunteering, thank people for helping, talk about their experiences, and ask for donations and other types of posts.
In addition to volunteers and supplies, Murphy is seeking addresses of victims who need help the most.
Volunteers do work daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Also, donations, including heavy black garbage bags, work gloves, rubber gloves, mops and cleaning supplies, are being accepted at the RE/MAX Innovations office on Park Avenue in Long Beach.
For more information and inquiries about how one can help, e-mail SandyHelpLB@gmail.com or call (516) 647-3242.