LONG BEACH, N.Y. -- Jenny Kastner couldn’t conceal her frustration. After three days spent waiting for local, state and federal officials to address what she saw as the most pressing need in this Long Island community -- food and water to thousands of residents living in cold, dark homes, many without any communication to the outside world -- she couldn’t believe that the first Red Cross truck she had seen was setting up operations in a windswept beach parking lot five miles from town.

“This doesn’t work!” she said, loudly, to one of the workers. “People who need help can’t get here.”

Kastner, and her daughter, Liza Womack, began loading cardboard boxes full of ham and cheese sandwiches, bags of apples and bottles of water into Womack’s car, which had barely escaped the flood damage that rendered thousands of other vehicles here useless. Then they drove off to the low-income neighborhood of single-family homes and public housing projects to distribute the supplies where they were most needed.

Hurricane Sandy hammered this beach community of about 35,000 people on the Atlantic Ocean Monday night. The town still has no power and no running water. Dark, fetid sewer water fills many basements. Most others haven’t been properly cleaned of the water that surged into their homes. Those few residents in the poor neighborhoods of town who owned cars saw them swallowed up, and disabled, by the salty water.

“We’ve got no transportation, no phone service, it's just not a good time,” said Danielle Conan, a Long Beach resident, as she gratefully accepted a sandwich and some other food dropped off by the mother-daughter team.

In interviews over the course of an afternoon, residents said they were frustrated with the official response, which has seemed haphazard, and focused at times on the wrong priorities.

“The response is not about getting help to human beings,” Kastner said. “It’s just yelling at us and telling us to get out of town.”

The previous evening, a dozen National Guard soldiers had stood guard as three of their number distributed water to a long line of waiting residents, according to several who said they felt treated as if they were a threat, rather than victims of a natural disaster.

Authorities were also failing to communicate basic information, such as where to find food and water, locals said. Televisions are dark and cell phone service is spotty, at best. Downtown on Thursday, dozens of state and local police and officials from a variety of New York agencies milled around, but residents said they weren’t getting out into the community to answer people’s questions.

The interplay between various local, state and federal agencies at ground level in Long Beach is difficult to determine, meaning it is unclear whose job it is to communicate with residents and to make sure everyone knows about locations to pick up food and water. But the Nassau County Office of Emergency Management is likely playing a leading role. Calls to the agency Thursday afternoon weren't returned, and an email sent Thursday evening wasn't immediately returned.

Part of the problem seems to be the inevitable breakdown in communication that happens when different units are dispatched to an area with different missions, some from other parts of the country.

As a result, neighbors are relying on each other for information, which often proves wrong. Chrissy Bregali drove her sister and brother-in-law to City Hall after hearing a rumor that the Red Cross was distributing $250 in cash assistance to needy residents. That rumor proved false.

“Why aren’t they distributing these?” Bregali asked, holding a flyer that contained some basic information about services that she had just picked up from a police officer. Bregali said she hadn’t heard about the food distribution center in the beach parking lot. The flyer didn’t say anything about it.

The National Guard is patrolling neighborhoods, but their primary mission is security. The soldiers intimidate many residents, and they often don’t know the answer to questions about food and water distribution, locals said.

In a parking lot in the nearby community of Point Lookout, about seven miles away at the tip of the peninsula, a reporter encountered a weary search-and-rescue FEMA team dispatched from Indiana. These rescue workers, all firemen, had worked long hours since they arrived two days ago to make sure no one was still trapped by the storm. But they weren’t equipped to distribute food or water aid. They had only a 1-800 number for people to call if they asked about aid.

Though many residents expressed frustration with authorities, some seemed to be coping better than others.

Standing outside the fire station in Point Lookout, Donna Walsh said she was getting by on peanut butter and Fluffernutter sandwiches. “I haven’t seen my landlord since before the storm, but otherwise it's not too bad,” she said.

Across the street, a worker hosing off the floor of the flooded Apples Café unleashed an expletive-laden tirade when asked how he was coping. “How the f--- does it look like things are going?” he yelled, waving around the hose. “Where the f--- are our government officials?”

Back in Long Beach, one official, who declined to give his name because he said he was not authorized to speak to the press, said that authorities were doing the best that they could and that ensuring public safety and getting power and sewer services restored was a top priority. The official said that food and water distribution was already improving.

And indeed, by Thursday afternoon that seemed to be the case. In the parking lot of a darkened, but still open Wauldbaum’s grocery store on the main business strip, long lines of Long Beach residents were queuing at two Red Cross trucks which had just arrived and were distributing small bags of food.

One of the trucks was the same one that Kastner had earlier admonished to move closer to the center of town. Someone, it turns out, may have been listening after all.

UPDATE: A spokesman for Nassau County's Office of Emergency Management said in an email that that the office distributes water and MRE's to the city, which then distributes the supplies to residents. The office has no jurisdiction over the local authorities, he said.

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The Huffington Post is eager for insights from our community, especially people with experience in power, infrastructure and engineering, on the adequacy of emergency preparation in advance of Hurricane Sandy, and the degree to which past disasters have informed adequate planning and construction. Please send a note to sandytips@huffingtonpost.com with insights and suggestions for the important questions that need to be asked of relevant private sector and government officials, and point us toward stories that need to be pursued.

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  • Kim Johnson looks over the destruction near her seaside apartment in Atlantic City, N.J., Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. Sandy, the storm that made landfall Monday, caused multiple fatalities, halted mass transit and cut power to more than 6 million homes and businesses. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

  • A videographer shoots a house in Toronto on Tuesday Oct. 30, 2012 that was crushed by a tree felled in superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn)

  • Homes damaged by a fire at Breezy Point are shown, in the New York City borough of Queens Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, in New York. The fire destroyed between 80 and 100 houses Monday night in the flooded neighborhood. More than 190 firefighters have contained the six-alarm blaze fire, but they are still putting out some pockets of fire. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • Utility crews work on damaged power lines in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy in Berlin, Md. on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

  • A vehicle travels a freshly plowed road Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, after superstorm Sandy moved through Elkins, W.Va. Sandy buried parts of West Virginia under more than a foot of snow on Tuesday, cutting power to at least 243,000 customers and closing dozens of roads. At least one death was reported. (AP Photo/Vicki Smith)

  • A fire truck passes a tree that has fallen across parked cars in the Brooklyn borough of New York the morning after superstorm Sandy struck, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. A record storm surge that was higher than predicted along with high winds damaged the electrical system and plunged millions of people into darkness. Utilities say it could be up to a week before power is fully restored. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

  • Halloween decorations are seen during a snowstorm, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, in Elkins, W.Va. Superstorm Sandy buried parts of West Virginia under more than a foot of snow on Tuesday, cutting power to at least 243,000 customers and closing dozens of roads. At least one death was reported. (AP Photo/Vicki Smith)

  • With the Capitol in the background, a jogger passes a fallen large oak tree on the National Mall near the Smithsonian in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 30, that was felled as Hurricane Sandy passed through Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

  • People wrap their bags while displays announcing departure times and advice about U.S. weather conditions are seen, at Madrid Barajas T4 international airport in Madrid, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. Spain’s National Airport Authority said a total of 19 flights between Madrid and Barcelona and the U.S. east coast were canceled Tuesday, adding to the 13 canceled on Monday. Portugal's state-owned Lusa news agency said TAP Portugal airline canceled its daily Lisbon-Newark flight both days while United Airlines also canceled its daily flight to Portugal. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)

  • Snow covers the streets Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, after superstorm Sandy moved through Elkins, W.Va. Sandy buried parts of West Virginia under more than a foot of snow on Tuesday, cutting power to at least 243,000 customers and closing dozens of roads. At least one death was reported. (AP Photo/Vicki Smith)

  • Utility crews work on damaged power lines in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy in Berlin, Md. on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

  • Crews work to clean up downed power lines in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012 in Milton, N.H. Thousands of New Hampshire residents and businesses were without power. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

  • Nick Macero Jr.

    Nick Macero Jr. looks at the damage to his beach front home from superstorm Sandy in Milford, Conn., Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

  • Using garbage bags to keep her waist dry, Mary Ann Tobias, and Walter Chaney of Moonachie, N.J. walk from their flooded home in the Metropolitan Trailer Park in Moonachie, N.J. Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012 in the wake of superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

  • Kathy Jones

    Kathy Jones calls to let her family know she's ok after damage caused by flooding destroyed her home at Breezy Point in the New York City borough of Queens, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, in New York. A fire destroyed between 80 and 100 houses Monday night in the flooded neighborhood. More than 190 firefighters have contained the six-alarm blaze fire, but they are still putting out some pockets of fire. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • Residents assess damage caused by a fire at Breezy Point, in the New York City borough of Queens Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, in New York. The fire destroyed between 80 and 100 houses Monday night in the flooded neighborhood. More than 190 firefighters have contained the six-alarm blaze fire, but they are still putting out some pockets of fire. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • Waves driven by superstorm Sandy crash on the beach of Lake Ontario in Toronto on Tuesday morning, Oct. 30, 2012. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn)

  • Andrea Grolon walks through waist-deep water in the Metropolitan Trailer Park in Moonachie, N.J. on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. Grolon, a resident of the trailer park, was wading through oil covered water to help others get to rescue vehicles in the wake of superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle

  • Trees lie fallen across parked cars in the Brooklyn borough of New York the morning after superstorm Sandy made landfall, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. A record storm surge that was higher than predicted along with high winds damaged the electrical system and plunged millions of people into darkness. Utilities say it could be up to a week before power is fully restored. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

  • Officials assess the damage caused by a fire at Breezy Point in the New York City borough of Queens, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, in New York. The fire destroyed between 80 and 100 houses Monday night in the flooded neighborhood. More than 190 firefighters have contained the six-alarm blaze fire, but they are still putting out some pockets of fire. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • Wreckage lies outsice damaged beach front homes after superstorm Sandy in Milford, Conn., Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

  • A landscape of destroyed homes is at Breezy Point, in the New York City borough of Queens Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012 in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy. The fire destroyed between 80 and 100 houses Monday night in the flooded neighborhood. More than 190 firefighters have contained the six-alarm blaze fire, but they are still putting out some pockets of fire. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • A boat floats in the driveway of a home in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, in Lindenhurst, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

  • Firefighters work at the scene of a house fire in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, in Lindenhurst, N.Y. According to firefighters at the scene, four homes were destroyed by fire overnight in Lindenhurst, and six in Massapequa. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

  • A member of the Moonachie Department of Public Works talks to a resident at the Metropolitan Trailer Park in Moonachie, N.J., Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. The park was flooded in the wake of superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

  • Residents assess damage caused by a fire at Breezy Point, in the New York City borough of Queens Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, in New York. The fire destroyed between 80 and 100 houses Monday night in the flooded neighborhood. More than 190 firefighters have contained the six-alarm blaze fire, but they are still putting out some pockets of fire. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • A fallen tree rests beside a parked car on East Broadway in Manhattan's Lower East Side neighborhood, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, in New York. New York City awakened Tuesday to a flooded subway system, shuttered financial markets and hundreds of thousands of people without power a day after a wall of seawater and high winds slammed into the city, destroying buildings and flooding tunnels. (AP Photo/ John Minchillo)

  • A pedestrian touches a fallen tree that crushed a parked car on East 7th Street in Manhattan's Lower East Side neighborhood, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, in New York. New York City awakened Tuesday to a flooded subway system, shuttered financial markets and hundreds of thousands of people without power a day after a wall of seawater and high winds slammed into the city, destroying buildings and flooding tunnels. (AP Photo/ John Minchillo)

  • Lumber rests on a street below the Manhattan Bridge after being washed inland by flood waters superstorm Sandy, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, in New York. New York City awakened Tuesday to a flooded subway system, shuttered financial markets and hundreds of thousands of people without power a day after a wall of seawater and high winds slammed into the city, destroying buildings and flooding tunnels. (AP Photo/ John Minchillo)

  • A tree leans against a house Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, in the Bay Ridge neighborhood in the Brooklyn borough of New York, while another tree lies on a taxi with a shattered rear window in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy. New York City awakened Tuesday to a flooded subway system, shuttered financial markets and hundreds of thousands of people without power a day after a wall of seawater and high winds slammed into the city, destroying buildings and flooding tunnels. (AP Photo/David Boe)

  • A man takes photos of a tree leaning against a house Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, in Bay Ridge of the Brooklyn borough of New York in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy. New York City awakened Tuesday to a flooded subway system, shuttered financial markets and hundreds of thousands of people without power a day after a wall of seawater and high winds slammed into the city, destroying buildings and flooding tunnels. (AP Photo/David Boe)

  • Andrea Grolon walks through waist-deep water in the Metropolitan Trailer Park in Moonachie, N.J. on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. Grolon, a resident of the trailer park, was wading through oil covered water to help others get to rescue vehicles in the wake of superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle

  • Damage caused by a fire at Breezy Point is shown Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy, in the New York City borough of Queens. The fire destroyed between 80 and 100 houses Monday night in the flooded neighborhood. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • A man photographs a home damaged during a storm at Breezy Point in the New York City borough of Queens Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. The fire destroyed between 80 and 100 houses Monday night in an area flooded by the superstorm that began sweeping through earlier. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • Keith Klein, right, and Eileen Blair assess the damage caused by a fire in the New York City borough of Queens, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. The fire destroyed between 80 and 100 houses Monday night in the flooded neighborhood. More than 190 firefighters have contained the six-alarm blaze fire, but they are still putting out some pockets of fire. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • Keith Klein walks through homes damaged by a fire at Breezy Point in the New York City borough of Queens. Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. The fire destroyed between 80 and 100 houses Monday night in an area flooded by the superstorm that began sweeping through earlier. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • A rainbow forms over Breezy Point in the New York City borough of Queens, in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, in New York. The fire destroyed between 80 and 100 houses Monday night in the flooded neighborhood. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • A woman is lifted into a National Guard vehicle after leaving her flooded home at the Metropolitan Trailer Park in Moonachie, N.J. Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, after supsterstorm Sandy. Sandy, which was downgraded from hurricane just before making landfall, caused multiple fatalities, halted mass transit and cut power to more than 6 million homes and businesses. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

  • CORRECTS NAME OF FLOODED AREA TO BATTERY PARK UNDERPASS, INSTEAD OF BROOKLYN BATTERY TUNNEL - Water reaches street level at the West Street entrance to the Battery Park Underpass, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, in New York. Sandy, the storm that made landfall Monday, caused multiple fatalities, halted mass transit and cut power to more than 6 million homes and businesses. (AP Photo/ Louis Lanzano)

  • A keep off the dunes sign is buried Tuesday morning, Oct. 29, 2012, in Cape May, N.J., after a storm surge from superstormSandy pushed the Atlantic Ocean over the beach and into the streets. The storm that made landfall in New Jersey on Monday evening with 80 mph sustained winds killed at least 16 people in seven states, cut power to more than 7.4 million homes and businesses from the Carolinas to Ohio, caused scares at two nuclear power plants and stopped the presidential campaign cold. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

  • Jorge, 30, left, and Yaw, 28, wait in front of a closed United Airlines check in area after their flights toNew York were canceled at the international airport in Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. Spain’s National Airport Authority said a total of 19 flights between Madrid and Barcelona and the U.S. east coast were canceled Tuesday, adding to the 13 canceled on Monday. Portugal's state-owned Lusa news agency said TAP Portugal airline canceled its daily Lisbon-Newark flight both days while United Airlines also canceled its daily flight to Portugal. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

  • Water reaches the street level of the flooded Battery Park Underpass, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, in New York. New York City awakened Tuesday to a flooded subway system, shuttered financial markets and hundreds of thousands of people without power a day after a wall of seawater and high winds slammed into the city, destroying buildings and flooding tunnels. (AP Photo/ Louis Lanzano)

  • The streets surrounding the New York Stock Exchange, left, are deserted as financial markets remain closed for the second day,Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. Sandy, the storm that made landfall Monday, caused multiple fatalities, halted mass transit and cut power to more than 6 million homes and businesses. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

  • The streets surrounding the New York Stock Exchange are deserted as financial markets remain closed for the second day due to superstorm Sandy, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. Sandy, the storm that made landfall Monday, caused multiple fatalities, halted mass transit and cut power to more than 6 million homes and businesses. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)