Reading yesterday's issue of The Staten Island Advance, I came across this special to The Advance, written by Ed Wiseman, Executive Director of Historic Richmindtown. Often taking walks at the bucolic spot after a visit to St. Patrick's Church, I did not realize the severity of the situation after Hurricane Sandy. It's funny. When you go about your daily life, you sometimes forget the ravagres that the hurricane left in its wake here on Staten Island. Damage was sustained and there was a loss of income to the historic community, following the devastation of the storm.
Enclosed is an exerpt from Michael Wiseman, Executive Director of Historic Richmondtown. I hope that reading this special to The Advance will help many better understand the severity of the situation here in Zone A. If it manages to open the hearts and wallets of Staten Island local historians and art philanthropists, then some good comes out of this publication of the article. Read and reflect:
Exerpt to The Advance written by Ed Wiseman, Executive, Executive Director, Historic Richmondtown:
Many of you have been asking us about the damage and recovery efforts at Historic Richmond Town. We have been reluctant to share our story because so many friends, neighbors and supporters have been devastated by the storm. We did not want to take the focus off them.
Now that some time has passed, we thought it was appropriate to share our story. The good news is that all of our staff, board and volunteers are safe and secure. Many lost power, some were displaced from their homes and a few continue to house family and friends. But, most importantly, they are all well.
Historic Richmond Town covers four sites and 100 acres with almost 40 very, very old wooden structures. We are large, spread out and have hundreds of thousands of irreplaceable American artifacts in our care.
We are relieved to report that the historic homes and other buildings did not suffer catastrophic damage from wind or fallen trees. But two historic homes were flooded. Another home was weakened due to the wind. Others sustained damage to their facades and roofs.
A storage building with precious artifacts was flooded with grimy ground water. In addition, we dealt with over a dozen felled trees and dangerous dangling branches. Our phone system was zapped and we lost heating and electrical service in many buildings.
To sum up, American history suffered multiple blows. If you look at the New York City map, you will notice that Historic Richmond Town's main site -- Richmond Town Center -- is in Zone A and is surrounded on two sides by wetlands. Settling a town near water was really a good thing way back when. It made home and commercial life a lot easier. Today, it offers many challenges.
Our small but truly amazing staff prepped for Sandy by securing areas, moving out collection items and sandbagging flood-prone areas. They responded to the storm by bailing water, felling trees, cutting up branches, rearranging collections, cleaning debris and making repairs. They were heroic. While many staffers were homeless and powerless, they walked, biked and bused to work or used precious gas to come in, to get Historic Richmond Town back on its feet.
Beyond this, many staff members still found extra time to volunteer or contribute to disaster relief in harder-hit neighborhoods. They stayed smiling and never complained. They are true Staten Islanders.
Today, we are left with damage and a tremendous amount of lost income. The storm hit during one of our busiest times. We will need to make up many thousands of dollars in lost income alone. The total damage is still being assessed. Our expenses are still being counted.
We have already registered with FEMA and are working with our insurance carrier. We already received a recovery grant from the New York Council for the Humanities -- thank you! But how much we can recover in total is unknown at this time.
Please know that we have leaned heavily on some wonderful resources. The NYC Department of Cultural Affairs and the Historic House Trust (NYC Parks) are two agencies that have been relentless in getting Historic Richmond Town the help it needs.
Councilman Jim Oddo reached out to us right from the very beginning, as the winds were howling, just to make sure everyone was safe and to offer any help. Finally, the Borough President's office and Staten Island Chamber of Commerce have been right there on the front lines, spending sleepless hours so we may rest easier.
We are grateful that we live in a community where, despite differences, people love and care for each other. The world is watching us now. And what they see is a small town that will not quit. They see neighbor helping neighbor. They see the true meaning of friendship. They see the power of local people working together, rebuilding and refusing to look back. They are watching the Great Recovery.
Like many homeowners, Historic Richmond Town will not receive all that it needs from insurance claims. We will rely on neighbors, friends and supporters. We can't do it without you.
A gift of any amount will help us restore the only museum in New York City that celebrates centuries of American life. Help us to continue to share the stories of America with children. Let's continue to share how ordinary people worked hard every day to build this extraordinary country.
Although we are all still reeling from Sandy's blow, we are honored to be part of The Great Recovery with you. Staten Islanders prove once again that they stand together and strong.
So Staten Island devotees of history and the arts, now is your chance to help out by volunteering in relief efforts or donating money to enhance the museum's coffers.