BY TRONE DOWD
Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman (D-Springfield Gardens) and her colleagues in the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus are teaming up with constituents to help those affected by the devastating effects of this year’s hurricane season in the Caribbean.
During an interview with the Queens Tribune, Hyndman said that efforts to help those facing the aftermath of hurricanes Maria and Irma began in late September. The caucus met with the ambassadors of Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda—countries that did not have the backing of larger, more affluent nations to help with recovery efforts.
“Irma and Marie completely leveled those islands,” Hyndman said. “Although the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico had their issues with Trump and so on, they at least had some resources flowing in from the mainland. But with Antigua, Dominica and Barbuda, these are independent Caribbean nations without France or Britain to back them up.”
After speaking with the ambassadors, the caucus got to work. In Southeast Queens, Hyndman put out the word in the 29th Assembly District.
“We put the word out on social media,” she said. “We reached out to schools, constituents and newsletters, asking for donations and, sure enough, they came in.”
Resources included non-perishable canned food, rice, diapers, fresh water, napkins, paper towels and clothing, such as socks and underwear.
“A lot of these things people don’t think about,” Hyndman said. “People want and need socks over in these islands.”
The assemblywoman said that collecting the resources was easy. Getting them out to the countries that needed them was an entirely different story. With the holiday season nearing, shipping companies were completely backed up by families sending holiday goods and care packages overseas. Even the ambassadors who originally greenlit the efforts said that their hands were tied due to the influx of shipping activity. However, Hyndman was able to get in touch with Dr. Roy Hastick, the president of the New York-based Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc., to find a way out of the situation.
“With just one phone call to him, he was able to get in touch with the Consulate General of Dominica. They came by and picked up everything,” she said. “It couldn’t have gone any smoother.”