Despite the flood that ravaged her home and the fire that destroyed
her car, Superstorm Sandy survivor Jill Capozzi says she still has much
to be thankful for.
So on Thanksgiving Day, she is heading to
Coney Island, another community battered by the storm, to serve a meal
to those less fortunate than she is.
"We have plenty of friends
who have nothing left,'' says Capozzi, 42, whose home in the Long Island
community of Oceanside filled with 4 feet of water when the superstorm
struck Oct. 29. Plenty of people helped her family, and it's time to pay
it forward,'' she says.
It's Thanksgiving time in New York's
Staten Island and Rockaway, in New Jersey's Oceanside and Toms River.
Those communities were among the places hardest-hit by Sandy, which
claimed the lives of 121 people in the USA after it roared ashore,
damaging or destroying thousands of homes along the East Coast and
leaving millions without power for days.
recovery is just beginning, and many have been stripped of their homes
and all they own. But businesses, community groups and individuals are
working to make sure that those displaced by the storm, and the workers
who have come to help them, can enjoy a holiday meal.
pages are linking storm survivors with families who want to invite them
to dinner. The retailer Lowe's will hand out more than 22,000
heat-and-serve Thanksgiving meals at 35 stores in New York and New
Jersey on Wednesday.
Other meals will be handed out or served by schools, restaurants and even on baseball fields through Thanksgiving.
going to feed anyone displaced or anyone who needs a meal," says John
Kretkowski, owner of Seabreeze Deli & Catering in Spring Lake
Heights. N.J., who will dish out turkey, ham and dessert on Thanksgiving
Day to storm survivors, workers who've come to help from out of state,
and anyone who is having financial troubles.
In Toms River, Elks
Lodge No. 1875 has been handing out clothing and non perishable food for
three weeks. On Thanksgiving, it will welcome the community to a
"Restore the Shore'' turkey dinner.
"We're the only facility big
enough to handle the crowd we expect,'' says Tom Fitzpatrick, the
lodge's steward. He anticipates as many as 1,000 people.
Fahey, co-owner of Edgar's Pub in Manasquan, N.J., felt the wrath of
Sandy firsthand when his home in nearby Avon-by-the Sea was decimated by
the storm. He still wanted to do what he could for his neighbors. His
staff is volunteering its time to serve up a hot meal to displaced
families and out-of-state utility workers on Thanksgiving,.
long as they keep coming, we'll keep feeding them,'' Fahey says. Others
in the community have contributed money and turkeys for the free meal.
"We're happy to do it," Fahey says. "It's rewarding for us and will
hopefully give people a night to smile and forget about things for a
The memories of the storm are raw.
"We've all been affected,'' says Debbi Winogracki, spokeswoman for
Toms River Mayor Tom Kelaher. "It doesn't really feel like
Thanksgiving. ... People had plans, 20 people to come for Thanksgiving,
and that's just not going to happen. People take in who they can.''
Some will work through the holiday.
Billy Major, who
owned the Funtown Pier Amusement Park in Seaside Heights, N.J., also has
a construction company that is doing repairs in the town.
"We're cleaning up the borough,'' he says. "That's where we'll be.''
Others will celebrate the holiday with relatives, but the storm will be on their minds.
Alison Lozito, who lives in Oceanside, says she should have evacuated.
the midst of the storm, her husband, Shane Pitta, lifted their son and
daughter onto his shoulders. Then Lozito, the water up to her neck,
waded with her family to the safety of a neighbor's home.
and her family eventually went to the home of her sister, where they
stayed for three weeks. They'll be back there again for Thanksgiving.
am I thankful for? I'm thankful for my sister ... for putting a roof
over my head. And I'm thankful my house didn't float away. We're really
thankful no one was hurt. We're alive, and we got out,'' Lozito says,
family of John Nies, a 55-year-old contractor, will eat Thanksgiving
dinner at his sister-in-law's in the Howard Beach section of Queens, an
area that also was damaged by the storm.
Nies' home in Breezy
Point, Queens, wasn't badly damaged in the storm, but at the start of
this week, he still had no heat, electricity or running water. So, he,
wife Lisa and their three daughters are living in a one-bedroom basement
apartment in a relative's house in Brooklyn.
Last week, they painted the apartment and put in new carpet, settling in for the long haul.
Nies says the family has plenty to be thankful for this Thanksgiving --
like surviving Sandy after ignoring a city order to evacuate.
"We're thankful to have each other, to be together,'' he says - even in a basement apartment.
that kind of gratitude that is motivating Jill Capozzi to take her
10-year-old son with her to Coney Island to serve Thanksgiving dinner in
the park where the Brooklyn Cyclones baseball team usually plays.
She's trying to persuade her husband, Stephen, to come along.
think it would be refreshing because he's so down,'' she said. "I said
if you want to sit and work on the house, that's fine, but I think it's
(good) to go and see what we could've lost.''