Local club owner continues Sandy efforts

Stingaree owner James Brennan grew up in New York

SAN DIEGO - The owner of one of San Diego's most popular clubs said he would remain in New York indefinitely to help victims of Superstorm Sandy.

James Brennan, restaurant developer and owner of Stingaree nightclub, has been in his hometown of Rockaway Beach since last Thursday to help in the recovery efforts. He is also helping residents prepare for a northeaster storm heading into the area.

"There's plenty of manpower, there's plenty of clothes, plenty of food. We just need to get these people hot water and heat before the winter comes," Brennan told 10News by phone on Wednesday. "There was nobody here when I got here."

Before leaving for New York, Brennan hosted a Halloween party where 100 percent of the proceeds went to the newly created Rockaway Hurricane Victims Fund.

One hundred percent of the proceeds from last Friday night at all five of the restaurants that he co-owns also went to the relief fund.

The fund is helping residents who've lost everything, while he also purchased supplies like generators, heaters, bleach, batteries and pumps.

"You name it, we needed to get here," he added. "I don't know how that we can get stuff from California, on personal levels, and the government just fails like this."

Brennan and the local Catholic Charities plan to bring six New York families victimized by Sandy to San Diego to help them get back on their feet.

Among them are 16 children who will be in local classrooms Thursday.

"All of them start school on Thursday, all their uniforms are done. They have lunch boxes, hot meals, books and are already ready for them," Brennan said.

Their fathers, who are policemen, firefighters and sanitation workers from Rockaway, remain in New York. They'll have to start by cleaning up massive piles of debris from their damaged properties.

"You know these basements are all living quarters for people, they are playrooms, they are bedrooms, they're kids' rooms … they are everything," Brennan added. "I mean, the water was 12 feet high."

While Brennan said a short visit home to San Diego is in his future, his time needed in Rockaway is indefinite, yet necessary. His goal remains for every family to come back to a home where they can flick on a light switch, have heat and hot water, and where they can live together again.

This weekend, Brennan will remain in Rockaway Beach even though it's the official grand opening of his Searsucker restaurant in Scottsdale, Ariz. Brennan co-owns the restaurant through his Enlightened Hospitality Group and it is his first restaurant outside of San Diego.

Brennan said he is not attending the opening so he can stay focused on his work in Rockaway. He said his heart is in Rockaway and is the only thing he is focusing on right now.

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