It's been almost six months since Superstorm Sandy tore apart the East Coast and left rubble and flooding in its wake. Power was out, broken trees were suspended on live power lines and families flocked to the shelters. Some homes along Noroton Bay remain damaged, but for the most part, life has returned to normal in Darien.
Other locations have not been so lucky. Some portions of Staten Island and Coney Island are still without power.
Nielsen's Florist understands that help is still needed by those severely affected by the storm.
For the second time since the storm, donations are being collected in order to send relief.
However, unlike the blankets, cleaning supplies and food that was needed immediately after the storm, more "heavy duty" items are in demand, such as respirator masks and Tyvek suits for workers to tackle the mold in homes.
Raya Ward, Nielsen's marketing coordinator, knows it's not feasible for customers to purchase them, so they would ask for donations and purchasing the items. Ward has been in communication with people in affected areas to know what help is needed.
Immediately following Superstorm Sandy, Nielsen's was without power for seven days.
"We realized that we had gotten away quite easily," Ward said. The florist started a drive asking for blankets and cleaning supplies.
"We were amazed at what we got," Ward said of the first supplies drive.
Sandy Nielsen, one of the owners, recalled that a lot of their customers wanted to do more than just write a check for those in need. Through an Internet campaign and through speaking with customers, the word went out that they were asking for help.
The Internet campaign was successful and tables in the pergola were covered with supplies, Nielsen recalled.
"You wouldn't believe it," Nielsen told the Darien News. "People definitely wanted to help out."
One of the work vans was stuffed to capacity with blankets and cleaning supplies.
"You couldn't see out the back," Ward said. "You had to drive 50 mph or mops were going to fly out the windows."
Ward and another employee distributed the items themselves.
Not all of the blankets went down to New York. The remainder of the blankets went to a shelter in Bridgeport.
Now that Nielsen's business is slowing down post-Christmas, Ward is speaking with local charities in lower Fairfield County to help those who still are not able to go back to their homes.
Help, in that regard, would best come in the form of a monetary donation.
"It helps our customers give back to other communities that aren't right in their backyard," Nielsen said.