11/07/2012 2:50 PM
By: Kate Krenzer (@katekrenzer)
It all began last weekend in the visitor's locker room in Norfolk's Scope Arena. Just a few days after Hurricane Sandy pummeled the east coast leaving nothing but devestation in its it wake, the shocking images of the damage done were still clogging the Facebook and Twitter feeds of B-Sens players and hockey staff members.
Days earlier as they followed the media coverage of "Superstorm" Sandy the team wondered if they would even make it down to Norfolk for the pair of scheduled road games.
B-Sens forwards Pat Cannone, Hugh Jessiman and equipment manager Tom Severance sat together following the team's morning skate on Saturday and decided something had to be done.
It was a no brainer for these three to lead the charge. Cannone and Jessiman are Bayport, N.Y. and New York natives respectively. Severance lived in Wantagh, N.Y., just a few miles from Long Beach, for two years when he worked for the equipment staff of the National Hockey League's New York Islanders.
"A lot of friends I made while working with the Islanders have friends and family that have been affected. Just seeing some of the pictures on their Facebook pages - the amount of damage their homes have, homes and businesses without power, trees down and power lines down - is overwhelming," said Severance.
"I think everyone was affected in someway by Sandy - whether directly or indirectly. A lot of my friends live in New York City. Many of them were evacuated and actually stayed for a few days at my dad's house in Connecticut," said Jessiman when asked about how Sandy impacted him.
For Cannone, his family has found themselves in the midst of the chaos left in Sandy's wake. Although his family lives relatively close to the water in Long Island, their house did not flood. His grandma, who is in her 80s, is still without power and has been spending a great deal of time with his parents.
Although his family suffered minimal damage, many places surrounding the Cannone's home were not so fortunate.
"We've seen the devastation all around the island. Places we grew up in, in the Nassau County and Long Beach areas, are totally wiped out now. It's pretty emotional," Cannone said.
Last Saturday afternoon following a quick brainstorming session, Severance sent a text to a couple members of the B-Sens executive staff. This would get the ball rolling, and by Tuesday morning, a plan was in place.
This coming Saturday as the B-Sens host the Norfolk Admirals, fans coming to the game are encouraged to make a donation. The team will be collecting monetary donations as well as items for shelters in the affected areas. A complete list of items the team is collecting can be found here.
Fans unable to make the game are welcome to drop items off at the B-Sens executive offices located on the third floor of the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena during normal business hours this week: 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday and Saturday beginning at 9 a.m.
While the team hopes to collect a generous amount of donations to distribute to those in need, they are now trying to iron out the details of the next step of their plan. Cannone, Jessiman and Severance are working hard to find transportation down to the hardest hit areas of Long Beach and Staten Island.
The inspiration for the trip came after friends of Jessiman spent the weekend lending a hand in Staten Island.
"I think marathon Sunday was a big turning point in that obviously it was supposed to be a big day for the city. The marathon is a huge deal, but when it did not go on as scheduled, it was a great opportunity for people to jump on the ferry and head out to Staten Island to help out," explained Jessiman.
"The flooding from what I've heard has just devastated people's homes and lives are changed. Even just going out there for a day and offering up your services can make a difference."
The players hope to secure a bus for Tuesday of next week so that they can head down to the New York area following practice to hand deliver supplies to shelters.
"Obviously that transportation is huge. However it comes. I think this is a great opportunity for people all around Broome County to help out. Rather than us just sending the donations down there, I think going down there to see it, be a part of it and really get involved will help us to better realize what more has to be done," said Jessiman.
"It's going to be eye opening. We're going to have to raise a lot of money and get a lot of supplies donated to make a difference, but even if we go down and just put a smile on a few people's faces it will be worth it."
Another individual who hopes to see the trip come to fruition is Cannone's mother, Joanne.
"Getting down there is something we've talked about and are determined to get done. I told my mom we would be trying to come down on Tuesday and she was thrilled," said Cannone. "She wants to meet us down there with supplies of her own and items she can round up to help the shelters."
"Donating is great. Everyone can donate. But to actually be able to go down there would be huge. I think a lot of us, me included, can't fathom the amount of damage done by this storm. Obviously you see the pictures, but from what I've heard it's a lot worse than what you see," added Severance.
"It's going to take a lot of time, a lot of money and a lot of effort to get these people back on their feet. We want to be there to tell these people that we're here for them."
When asked what he would say to B-Sens fans to encourage them to donate to the team's Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, Cannone wanted to leave them with this thought:
"Last year with the flooding in this area and destruction left behind you saw firsthand how much people in this area needed help and support afterwards. It's the same thing going on down in New York right now, just a couple hours away from here and there are people down in that area who came to the Southern Tier's aid when they needed it. We would like to see everyone pull together to show support and help them out in their time of need. Every little bit helps, big or small."