Last week we wrote about an elderly Brighton Beach couple whose heating still wasn’t repaired months after the events of Superstorm Sandy. Given a free electric space heater by the city, the Gertsmans of 601 Brightwater Court, saw their electricity bill soar, a cost they were unable to cover themselves. Having heard their plight on 1010 WINS, a listener stepped up and covered the Gertsmans’ electric bill, according to a report by CBS NY.
The radio listener who donated the money to the Gertsmans was New Jersey resident Diane Edwards.
“It feels great to meet him, it really is a pleasure,” Edwards told 1010 WINS reporter Carol D’Auria.
The Gertsmans also expressed gratitude for Edwards’s generous gift.
“Americans are accustomed to do good, and in the future Russians will know about charity as well as Americans,” he told 1010 WINS through an interpreter.
While the Gertsmans found some relief, their neighbors, unfortunately, did not.
According to Yelena Makhnin, executive director of the Brighton Beach Business Improvement District, the local relief center at the Shorefront Y distributed 3,500 electric heaters to Sandy victims. Even more were distributed in Coney Island, Sheepshead Bay, Gerritsen Beach and others. Many residents, desperate to fend off the winter chill while their boilers awaited replacement, turned to the devices despite the high price tag, and that fueled higher bills across the neighborhood.
“It’s a problem for thousands of people,” Makhnin told Sheepshead Bites. “There are many people on fixed incomes, and whose houses and apartments got damaged and they have to pay a lot of money to fix them, and in this situation, each and every penny counts.
Chaim Deutsch, an aide to Councilman Michael Nelson, led the charge to bring attention to the issue using the Gertsmans as a prime illustration. But now that the Gertsmans’ needs have been filled, they hope that others remain aware of the high costs of electric heating.
“It’s a community issue that people used the electric heaters, so it was something to bring out that when you use electric as opposed to gas, the price goes up,” said Deutsch. “It was a game of survival during Hurricane Sandy, and you had to make sure that everyone’s safe and you stay warm.”
With additional reporting by Ned Berke.