Sandy victims gather to offer a subdued thanks

Holiday spirit of giving endures

Marge Gatti’s home in Staten Island, N.Y., was ravaged by the storm, but she counts her blessings.
Seth Wenig/Associated Press
Marge Gatti’s home in Staten Island, N.Y., was ravaged by the storm, but she counts her blessings.

NEW YORK — The things that Marge Gatti once cherished are lying on what’s left of her deck, spattered in mud, like a yard sale gone awry.

The fur coat she bought for $80 at an auction. Family videos. A peach-colored glass creamer from England. Books she never got a chance to read.

The stuff is ruined, just like her sodden Staten Island home, which was ravaged by Hurricane Sandy’s flood waters and will be demolished in the coming weeks. Of all things material, Gatti has nothing.


And yet, on Thanksgiving Day, she will be counting her blessings.

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‘‘My sons are alive. They were trapped here,’’ said Gatti, 67, who lived down the block from the Atlantic Ocean for 32 years. ‘‘I’m thankful that I have all my family. And that my friends are still here, you know? We’re all friends now. There’s no strangers in life anymore.’’

It will be a subdued Thanksgiving for families hit hard by the storm as they gather with friends and strangers alike, seeking to celebrate the people and things spared when so much was lost. But they will not be left to fend for themselves.

Restaurants are donating meals, strangers and churches are opening their doors, and people from across the nation have sent an outpouring of donations for those unable to roast their own turkey.

New York City and Macy’s have set aside 5,000 bleacher seats along the Thanksgiving Day Parade route for families affected by the storm. Occupy Sandy, the storm-relief offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement, will host a Thanksgiving dinner in lower Manhattan.


Jennifer Kaufman of Washington Township, N.J., started a Facebook page that matches willing Thanksgiving hosts with families who have been displaced by Sandy.

‘‘No one should eat alone on Thanksgiving,’’ Kaufman said.

In the Belle Harbor section of the Rockaways, Ray Marten is thankful his two teenage children are alive. At the height of the storm, he saw flames from burning homes dancing over the flood waters. The three of them narrowly escaped before the blaze engulfed their house. A neighbor in a scuba suit materialized out of the darkness and towed Marten’s 13-year-old daughter to safety on a surfboard.

A restaurant in New Jersey is donating a catered Thanksgiving dinner for his family and other displaced relatives at his mother’s overcrowded Brooklyn home, where they are staying. His wife’s sister lost her home in the post-storm fire that destroyed 100 houses in the city’s Breezy Point section.

‘‘We won’t be sitting at a dining room table. We’ll be eating off of paper plates,’’ said his wife, Linda. ‘‘But at least we’ll be together.’’