Prosser supply drive to assist New York city

By Sara Schilling, Tri-City HeraldNovember 19, 2012 

PROSSER -- East Rockaway is thousands of miles from Prosser.

But the community on Long Island in New York has at least one thing in common with the one tucked in Eastern Washington's Lower Yakima Valley: Zach Berry.

The 19-year-old spent several years living in Prosser as a boy. His dad, Jason Berry of Kennewick, is a Prosser High graduate.

Zach Berry now lives near East Rockaway with his mom, Erin Burnett. They weathered Superstorm Sandy together at home, spending days without electricity, welcoming other family members who couldn't stay in their own houses.

"We're fine. We're just trying to help the people who really need it around us," Berry said by phone Friday. "Some people -- their whole life is gone. Their home flooded, their cars are gone."

Now a friend in Prosser is organizing a supply drive to help Berry's other hometown. Jerrie Lyn Thomas, who grew up with Berry's dad, is collecting items such as sponges, toiletries and baby wipes. She said clothes and food aren't needed. (Check out her Facebook page, Prosser Supports East Rockaway, for more information).

Eventually, Thomas would like to travel to the East Coast to help with relief efforts, she said. "For now, this is what I feel I can do to help them," she told the Herald.

Thomas said donations can be dropped off at several Prosser locations, including Prosser Bethel Church, Alexandria Nicole Cellars, Sixth Street Coffee, 7 Degrees floral shop and Cook's True Value. An account also is set up at Bank of America.

Berry and his mom spent about five days without power at home. "We sat by candlelight at night. We ate out of bags and boxes. We went to bed at 8 o'clock at night because there was nothing to do. We couldn't go anywhere because we didn't have gas. There were no streetlights," Burnett told the Herald.

Berry, a 2011 Kamiakin High School graduate, said life now is starting to get back to normal. He and his mom have returned to work.

But "there's always going to be physical reminders" of the storm, he said. "There are uprooted sidewalks, docks that are gone now. A town by us -- Long Beach -- is pretty much uninhabitable."

Burnett has been organizing support for East Rockaway through social media. She said it's nice to think of people on the other side of the country in eastern Washington pitching in.

"It's going to take a long time to rebuild," she said. "It's not done. It won't be done (for a while). It will take years.

We don't want people to forget about it."

-- Sara Schilling: 582-1529; sschilling@tricityherald.com

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