By Chanina Freeman

This morning we meet in front of Lubavitch Headquarters, 770 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, eager to volunteer for hurricane relief. Chaim Lazarus has managed to borrow a bus with a tank full of gas to get us to Seagate, a community hard hit by Sandy.

Approaching the Seagate peninsula, the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy is apparent by the piles of sandbags lined up along the sides of the road. Car after car is parked by the curb.

“See the cars parked by the side of the road?” my buddy points out the window. “They’re not parked. Look closer.”

I look. They’re no longer cars, but hunks of distorted metal.

As we arrive, we're greeted by the Seagate Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries, Rabbi and Mrs. Brikman. The area has been without electricity for over a week! People have been stuck in their homes without heat, stoves or refrigeration, and with little outside communication. There are lineups for packages of food. Many of the seniors are stranded in their homes, unaware of what is even happening outside. Members of the community are in great need, and every volunteer provides essential support.

Our first stop is to visit to an elderly Russian woman living with her daughter. Her daughter is standing outside waiting for us, and feels great relief and appreciation as our bus stops by her house.

For the next few hours, we go underground into the basements. The residents of Seagate have been struck by unexpected flooding waters washing away entire households including furniture, cabinets, closets, clothing and more. The scene is unreal, and we work to restore order, putting things back in place and salvaging whatever is possible from the wreckage.

At the same time, some of our group splits up to distribute care packages to the long list of people in this community. They, too, are greeted with a tremendous sense of gratitude.

From morning till sundown, the work is enormous; our day is filled with visits to homes and helping people with their recovery.