YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, NY - The water has receded, the sound of hammers and saws rebuilding damaged homes is in the air, but the devastation left by Hurricane Harvey will be felt for years to come. The historic rainfall, which dumped 27 trillion gallons of water over Texas and Louisiana killed at least thirty-five people, forced 13 million to flee their homes, and left 225,000 customers without power.
Like many Hudson Valley residents, Senator Terrence Murphy's prayers and thoughts are with the citizens of Texas. Working with local businesses, community groups and private citizens, Senator Murphy has created the "Fill a Truck for Texas" campaign. Standing next to a tractor-trailer parked at the Triangle Shopping Center in Yorktown Heights at a press conference earlier today, Senator Murphy, elected officials and a group of concerned citizens announced a bi-partisan relief effort to fill a tractor-trailer with critically needed items for people in the Gulf Region.
"Almost sixteen years ago to the day, New Yorkers and the nation were devastated by the tragic events that took place on September 11th. The people of Texas came to our aid when we were in dire need of help. We want them to know we have their backs," said Senator Murphy.
"Thanks to Tiso & Associates Inc. Trucking, we have access to a tractor trailer that can hold nearly 50,000 pounds of goods. I am asking businesses, families and individuals in the Hudson Valley to fill the truck and help others in crisis."
"We have a desperate situation where Republicans and Democrats have joined together to help. They say everything is big in Texas; nothing is bigger than the heart of New York," said Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino. "We have been through 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy. People from across the country helped us in our time of need. It is time for us to unite to help those in need in Texas."
Putnam Count Executive MaryEllen Odell commented, "We need to come to the aid of the people of Texas, just as they have helped us in the past. Texans are known for thinking big; but challenge a New Yorker and we will meet that challenge head on. I am certain the residents of Putnam County will do all they can to help their fellow Americans. Texas may be across the nation, but it is always close to our hearts."
"When it comes to helping one another, there is no Republican way, no Democratic way, just the right way," said Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano. "We hope that as Hurricane Irma makes its way to Florida that we do not have a similar or worse disaster. However, if we do, we know we will work together and be strong together. We will do what Americans do, and that is to continue to look out for each other and take care of one another."
Anyone interested in giving to the Hurricane Harvey relief effort can bring their donations to their local town halls. There will be relief boxes at town halls where people can leave their donations. Items can also be brought directly to the truck at the Triangle Shopping Center. In addition, The New York State United Teachers Union (NYSUT) will take donations at their Tarrytown Regional Office, 520 White Plains Road Suite 400. Donations can also be dropped off at the Valhalla Fire Department and Sleepy Hollow Fire Department.
The items needed include non-perishable food, baby supplies, personal hygiene products, blankets, and back to school supplies. Water, candy and perishable items are not recommended. Once the truck is loaded, it will make the trek to the Galveston Salvation Army on Friday, September 8th.
Yonkers City Council President Liam McLaughlin said, "We have an organization in Yonkers called 'Neighbors Helping Neighbors' that wanted to send supplies to the victims of the hurricane. We immediately started getting donations and supplies, but had a problem - we did not have a way to get the goods to Texas. Senator Murphy and Gary Tiso called and answered our prayers. We now have a truck. Let's fill it."
"We have had our share of natural and unnatural disasters in New York, so we are well aware of what the people of Texas and the Gulf Coast are going through," said Westchester County Legislator John G. Testa. "I want to acknowledge the rescue work that the Police, Fire Departments and volunteers have done to save lives. This vitally needed effort lead by Senator Murphy is crucial to helping Texas recover and begin the process of healing."
"I will elaborate on what Mayor Spano said earlier; there is no New York way of doing things, no Texas way, there is just the American way," said Westchester County Legislator Francis Corcoran. "That means reaching out in times of need to help one another. In times like these, I am proud to say that we can all forget about party lines and work as one toward helping our fellow countrymen."
Mt. Pleasant Town Supervisor Carl Fulgenzi stated, "Through our Fire Departments, Chamber of Commerce and residents we are in full swing collecting household goods, nonperishable foods and pet care products. The response has been overwhelming. This is what America is all about, always coming to the aid of others no matter what your political affiliation, race or religion. This effort illustrates why good will always conquer evil."
Lieutenant Colonel Carole Voisey of the Salvation Army added. "We are very grateful to Senator Murphy and his fellow elected officials for organizing this drive on behalf of the people of Galveston and Texas. It is a blessing to be part of this effort."
Maureen Warren, NYSUT Political Action Coordinator and member of the Bedford Teacher's Association said, "As many of us return to school this week it is important to remember that many more in storm torn areas are left without homes while schools remain close. As educators, we look for teachable moments to help our students overcome and comprehend national tragic events. Thanks to Senator Murphy, we will be able to teach our students that when someone is in need it is important to put words into action. We are more than happy to collect school supplies, among other items, from NYSUT local from throughout the area for victims of the storm. Thank you to Senator Murphy and his office for helping coordinate a truck to deliver these desperately needed items for families in need."
"Fill a Truck for Texas" sprang from a conversation between Senator Murphy and James Schmidtt of Schmidtt Excavating. They contacted Gary Tiso, owner of Tiso & Associates Trucking in Pawling, who gladly offered a tractor-trailer to transport the donations. Bottini Fuel graciously offered to pick up the cost of gas for the trip. News of the relief effort inspired an immediate outpouring of support from the Peekskill Salvation Army, Galveston Salvation Army, NYSUT, Valhalla Fire Department, Sleepy Hollow Fire Department, Cortlandt Shop Rite, ACME Supermarkets and Yonkers Neighbors to Neighbors who joined as relief partners.
Among the honored guests at the press conference were Assemblyman Kevin Byrne, Putnam County Legislator Neil Sullivan, Somers Town Supervisor Rick Morrissey, Somers Town Councilman Anthony Cirieco, Yorktown Supervisor Michael Grace, Yorktown Councilman Greg Bernard, and Yorktown Councilman Tom Diana.
For more information on how you can donate to the "Fill a Truck for Texas" campaign, contact Senator Terrence Murphy's District Office at 914-962-2624.