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Nov 9 2012
Gimmie Shelter: Aftermath of a Hurricane

Here’s the deal: we are Beer & Pig. We don’t write social commentary pieces. We talk about booze and BBQ because it’s what we love. Its 2012, if you like something else I am sure their are blogs for that as well. So we normally talk about the beer we like to drink, and the pork we like to eat. Let’s move on…

I live in Long Beach, New York. I watched the Atlantic Ocean come down my block and knock on my front door. When it left, it took countless homes and vehicles, devastated infrastructure, and threatened worse. The entirety of the island was under water. That happened. It’s done.

Let’s be fair, there are so many stories of philanthropy coming out of this singular event, and there have been plenty of Hurricanes and thousands of others affected. But we do BBQ and booze (see above), and we cover what we can see with our own eyes.

In light of recent events, one particular story has stuck out. We’ve profiled Swingbellys BBQ before, and normally we don’t double up. This will be an exception. Here’s why…

It’s been about 10 days since a massive hurricane crept up the East Coast. It touched down in portions of New Jersey and New York causing unprecedented damage that the two regions just simply were never prepared for.

Homes were damaged, some lost. Businesses were shut down. Towns were evacuated, and thousands of people were displaced. Basic services such as water, sewer, sanitation, and electric were lost – worse yet, there was no possible prediction able to be made for their restoration.

Sundown curfews are in place to prevent looting. Army, and National Guard patrols are a regular sight in what was once heavily sought after Summer vacation towns. For all intents and purposes, it was a mini-Armageddon. Yeah, all the Zombie jokes and references were made. The scary thing was that they were accurate.

So, it happened – it’s done. Now what? People were forced to abandon their homes due to extensive damage. Most have a lot of work to do in order to rebuild their lives. Sean Sullivan is the owner of Swingbellys BBQ. Much like every one else, he is faced with crippling losses. However, it’s going to take a lot more than 90+ MPH winds, coastal flooding, and absolute destruction to slow this man down.

The day after the storm Sean discovered his kitchen turned upside down. That’s quite the task when your kitchen includes a half ton smoker.  At this point his process includes documenting damage, preparing insurance and FEMA reports, and then a slow and arduous clean-up/rebuild.

That can wait.  Sean took to the streets and within 48 hours of the storm, he was hosting a free happy hour in front of his boarded up restaurant. He slung beers, cooked ribs, and warmed peoples hearts. Stories were swapped, burgers were flipped. People were able to drown their immense losses under a few well placed hot dogs and Bud Lights. Sean has his own losses to address, but it was more important to give a little respite to the community.

Sean’s response to the hurricane:

People like to <expletive deletedeat and drink beer.

I teared up. We need to add some new branding to this blog.

I tried to call Sean the “Patron Saint of BBQ.” However as a staunch and avid fan of all of Val Kilmer’s work, Sean informed me in order to be a Saint one must perform three miracles. Let’s call this #1.

The next day he rolled up to Long Beach City Hall with the smoker on wheels, and served a full payload to the National Guard, State Police, local Police, firemen, Government employees, and all other first-responders on scene. He procured his entire menu that morning from a wholesaler.

In other words, he again at his own expense was serving up smoked meats, completely unable to be staved off by his own losses.

AND THEN; Sean along with owners and operators of other restaurants in the West End region of Long Beach hosted a Sunday dinner for anyone who could attend. Let’s group those together and call that #2.

Lastly, Swingbellys has launched an initiative in partnership with Surf For All (local sponsoring charity), Skudin Surf, and the Long Beach Surfer’s Association to raise money to supply a full Thanksgiving dinner to 100 local families. They’re raising money via a web-based donation page, aiming to raise $10,000. Sean isn’t going to just make a 12 pound turkey and throw some canned cranberry sauce on the side. He goes big. He does it right.

If you’d like to Please donate HERE

Whatever you give is amazing, and is going directly onto a deserving family’s table this Thanksgiving. If you chose to donate, whether it be under your own name or anonymously, please consider tagging your name with B&P.

And oh yeah; that’s three.

If you have more to add to this particular story that is still unraveling daily, OR want to share your own personal story of disaster related BBQ feel free to throw in your take in the comments section.

I’ll go first; thanks Swingbellys.

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