While locations like Shore Road Park and Camp Bulldog on South Wellwood Avenue in Lindenhurst have been highly visible hives of activity in support of residents hard hit by Hurricane Sandy Long Island, nearby residents at Venetian Shores have seen a somewhat more understated campaign of activities designed to get their lives back together.
Much of that activity has occurred at Harding Avenue Elementary School.
Inside the school itself, tables of clothing and other household supplies are available for those who have lost their homes, are displaced and have basic needs that need addressing.
The school - which on Tuesday night hosted the latest Lindenhurst Board of Education Community Forum - has been a donation distribution center for a number of groups.
The local Lions Club and Taco Bell have come down to the parking lot of the school to distribute supplies. Harding Avenue teachers have been reaching out to nearby families and to the generally distressed population, and there are plans to begin providing gift cards to impacted residents.
But a school’s a school. And according to Harding Principal Brian Chamberlin, one of the biggest tasks his staff has faced has been accounting for all the displaced students in the Lindenhurst School District, and getting their education back on track.
That‘s no small task.
“We have 85 to 100 students who were displaced,” Chamberlin told Lindenhurst Patch on Tuesday night, after the November 20 BOE meeting.
“Some are in motels with their families. Some went to Lindenhurst locations, others to Copiague, others further away,” he said.
“Six of ours students are not coming back,“ said Chamberlin. “Their parents have registered them somewhere else. The rest of the displaced students are all accounted for, and 95 percent of them are back in Harding."
In the early going that's meant deployment of a significant number of school vans - a dozen of them, instead of the two that the school normally uses.
“We provide transportation up to 50 miles away, and we had some kids in Riverhead at first,” said Chamberlin. “But a lot are back in the area now. And in some cases parents, seeing their kids sitting on a bus for such a long time, are driving their children in.”
Of course there’s more to getting the children fully back on track than simply getting them into the building, Chamberlin acknowledged.
“There’s a lot of stress they're going through. With everything that’s going on in their lives right now, can they perform 100 percent? It‘s going to take time,” the principal said.
“But they’re back. They’re energized. They’re here,” he added.
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