Frank Murtagh watched in disbelief as his Long Beach, N.Y. home filled with water during Hurricane Sandy. But for the 53-year-old father-of-two, the experience was much different than most, as he had to be lifted into an attic crawl space by family members during the worst of the storm.
Murtagh has been living with cerebral palsy since birth. He wears a full-body brace and relies on a specialized electric wheelchair to get around.
“We put his feet up first but once the water was really rising it was starting to touch his legs so my sister’s fiancé and I carried him into the attic,” Murtagh’s daughter Maureen told Fox News. “It’s only about maybe five feet of space that you can really sit in. So, I made a makeshift bed up there to lay him down because he was really uncomfortable -- his brace hurts his body.”
Not only did Murtagh spend six hours lying on an air mattress in the attic crawl space until the water receded, his electric wheelchair shorted out in the flood and acid leaked from the battery pack – rendering it useless. Unable to walk without his chair, he can no longer get to work at his job at the Nassau County Office for the Physically Challenged. His doctor’s office in his home town of Long Beach was completely destroyed, leaving him no prescription for a new wheelchair – if his insurance company will even cover it.
“The problem is, that normally something like this takes a long time to begin with – but now and later of all these problems, it’s going to be that much longer before all this gets done,” Murtagh said about getting a new wheelchair. “And, luckily I have saved up a number of vacation days that I am now using, so that I don’t lose my job. But, if I don’t get back to work soon, that’s a possibility.”
Murtagh’s wife, Chris, is also unable to work because he needs constant care without his wheelchair. So, the family is without income on top of losing their home and handicapped accessible means of transportation (Murtagh’s van was also ruined during the storm).
In the meantime, the Murtaghs are staying in Huntington, N.Y., with family – but they wonder what will happen if their luck doesn’t turn around.
“The hard thing with the electric wheelchair is I can’t make trips back here to Long Beach to clean the house out with my daughters; I have to be with my husband if he needs assistance – going to the bathroom or he needs to eat his meals,” Chris Murtagh told Fox News. “When we had the electric wheelchair, he was more independent. I’d be able to leave him alone for a couple of hours.”
You can help the Murtaghs by visiting www.fundly.com/the-murtagh-family. You can also help many other families like the Murtaghs by checking out these organizations below.
American Red Cross
Severe weather has cancelled almost 380 Red Cross blood drives in 13 states and the District of Columbia, resulting in a shortfall of more than 12,800 units of blood and platelets. You can help by donating blood and platelets – visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-REDCROSS to make an appointment.
The Red Cross also needs financial donations – this is the most immediate way you can help out. Click here to make a financial donation, which in turn can deliver a hot meal to victims, provide shelter to people needing a safe place to stay, or provide clean up kits and other supplies to those recovering from disaster.
Text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 in support of disaster relief efforts.
Staten Island Recovers
The devastation on Staten Island has been tremendous and ongoing. For those looking to either volunteer or give to the suffering borough, Staten Island Recovers will coordinate with donors on how they can help – either physically or financially. The site also provides a resource for victims of Hurricane Sandy to request donations or volunteer assignments. With volunteer sites constantly changing and updating, Staten Island Recovers has an ongoing blog to help direct volunteers to homes that have the most needs.
Utilizing the communication channel created for the Occupy Wall Street movement, Occupy Sandy was formed shortly after Hurricane Sandy hit and has helped to distribute much needed items and volunteers to neighborhoods most affected by the storm. The group constantly updates their site with the items needed from donors as well as hubs throughout New York City and New Jersey where volunteers looking to lend a hand can go to help out.
Volunteers and donors can get regular updates from Occupy Sandy by text messaging @occupysandy to 23559. Medical needs and requests can be emailed to SandyMedics@interoccupy.net or call 646-470-7256.
www.diapers.com/sandy (click on the Essential Donations Center)
You can make an “essential” donation at diapers.com in pretty much any denomination you’d like. You can choose what you want to donate, whether it be baby food, diapers, formula and/or clothing. You can also send pet essentials from its sister site, www.wag.com, toiletries and household items from www.soap.com and www.casa.com. Diapers.com will deliver the items to those who need it – and there’s no extra fee required from you. Your donation is even tax deductible.
So far, diapers.com and it’s subsidiaries have provided 60,000 diapers, 8,000 bottles of baby formula and 3,000 bowls of pet food through partners like AmeriCares, American Red Cross and Jersey City Humane Society.
Helping Hurricane Sandy's Children
This grassroots group started by concerned mothers from Long Island and surrounding who saw and experienced the devastation brought by Sandy firsthand. Taking a different approach to relief efforts, the group is collecting toys, gift cards and other items to make sure Sandy's littlest victims have happy holidays. Volunteers can also shop for and wrap gifts. Local donations can be dropped off to different locations noted on the group's Facebook page. And all other donations can be made by purchasing items from the group's Amazon wishlist.
Hoboken, N.J. was one of the place’s most affected by Hurricane Sandy. With flood waters taking over a week to fully recede, the historical New Jersey city suffered major damage and many of its citizens are still living without power. HealHoboken was launched with the motto “No storm can sink us” and has pledged to raise over $100,000 to help repair the damaged Hoboken. Those who donate also receive a Heal Hoboken hoodie or T-shirt.
Mayor Dawn Zimmer and the city of Hoboken have established the Rebuild Hoboken Relief Fund, with help from local organizations and charities. Donations will provide immediate assistance to those hurting from Hurricane Sandy. Although power has been restored to many residents, some still are without – and many residents are displaced. Many have lost their belongings, and need to start rebuilding their lives.
New Jersey Relief Fund
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and his wife Mary Pat Christie have set up a relief fund to “aide, comfort, and rebuild New Jersey” after Sandy. Visit the website or send money to:
Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund
PO Box 95, Mendham NJ 07945-0095.
You can also text NJ to 41444 to donate.
Best Friends Animal Society
Best Friends Animal Society is helping local animal shelters impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Many of these shelters have been over-crowded and are in need of help, both financially and by finding new owners for these pets. Best Friends has stepped in, helping to distribute in-kind donations, as well as offering micro-grants to organizations that need to rebuild and restock.
Best Friends works to gather items that have been collected by other organizations and then give them to those in need.
Mail items to:
Best Friends volunteer drive
c/o Diane Mancher
One Potata Productions
80 E. 11th Street, Suite 301A
New York, New York 10003
You can help the animals of the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter by adopting, volunteering or donating. Click here for more information.
Sleepy Hollow Animal Hospital
Sleepy Hollow Animal Hospital in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y. is sending supplies to Breezy Point and Far Rockaway. They plan to grill food for people in those areas, as well as provide donated clothing, food and dry goods for residents. They are also offering their heat, free WiFi and coffee to those still without power.
YMCAs in the tri-state area are collecting non-perishable foods, water, first aid supplies, diapers, batteries, cleaning supplies, pet supplies, pet food and more. Contact your local YMCA to see if they are collecting items for Sandy victims. Some Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts chapters are also holding drives to collect supplies for citizens in need.
Project Hospitality is collecting money to help people in Staten Island who have been hardest hit by the hurricane. Visit their website to donate to Project Hospitality’s Staten Island Hurricane Relief Fund.
FoxNews.com's Alex Crees, Jessica Ryen Doyle and Loren Grush contributed to this article.