Walk A Mile in Our Shoes: 17 Months After Sandy

On March 29th, 2014, 17 months after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the East Coast, many New York City residents have not received the help they need, despite the government promising assistance through various programs. Sandy survivors in Staten Island marched to demand the help needed to get them back into their homes.

Staten Island – 34 Days After Sandy

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I have been following the cleanup of New Dorp Beach, Staten Island since about a week after Hurricane Sandy hit. I’ve seen this neighborhood transform since then. First there was piles of trash in the streets – people’s belongings that were ruined from the flooding – so much that you could barely walk down the street. The first piles of trash were cleaned up within a few days thanks to the hardworking department of sanitation workers and volunteers who came to help. Then people had time to sit back and assess the damage to their homes… after which many, if not most of them, began to gut their homes. Carpet, dry wall, insulation, everything is now being torn out of these homes due to flood damage and mold. Although power has been restored to the neighborhood and the street lights are back on, the homes now have to be inspected before power will be turned on to them, so many are still without power, heat, and hot water.

Many homes look like the one in this photo – just sitting there, missing portions of their walls, no furniture or personal belongings, and sections of dry wall torn out with other sections still in tact. What I’m getting at is that although there has been tons of cleanup done so far, this is just the beginning. New Dorp Beach, and many other neighborhoods hit hard by Sandy, will be cleaning up for months, if not years to come.

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Below is a photo of one of the first homes I went into after hurricane Sandy. It was on a chilly day, and as Giles Clarke and I walked by, these kind folks invited us in to warm up by their wood burning stove. We graciously accepted their offer. These people who had lost everything on their first floor worked to get their wood stove up-and-running again, and then shared the warmth with us. Today, I returned to visit them and, yet again, warmed up by their fire. The kindness of the residents of New Dorp Beach, many of whom have lost basically everything, continues to inspire me.

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And this is Eddie from New Dorp Beach. His home received major flood damage during hurricane Sandy when the water rose up 8 feet. Although FEMA reported that his neighbors received 8 feet of flooding, the inspector that came to his house reported that he only had 4 inches. The FEMA inspector also reported that he did not have any vehicles, even though there was a van and a motorcycle in his driveway, both of which no longer work because of the flood damage. He spoke out against this obvious discrimination, and now FEMA said they will be sending in another inspector to look at his home.

He had originally gone to a shelter for one night after the hurricane, but was disgusted by the conditions there, and instead choose to put blankets on the floor and sleep in his mold-covered home. In order to stay warm, he was using a wood burning stove, which caused his home to catch fire just a few days ago. This is just one story from one resident in New Dorp Beach, where many, many people are still extremely devastated after hurricane Sandy.

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A family put a Christmas tree in a park on Cedar Grove Ave in New Dorp Beach. The sign next to is says, “Here stands our tree of hope. Our symbol of resolve and strength to breathe life back into our community once again. These ornaments represent each family member’s life line. Lets stand together as a community….. The Alvarez Family, Marc, Debbie, Jack, Dylan. Merry Christmas ♥”

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I also spent time in Midland Beach, Staten Island, and below are photos from there:

Mold growing in a home due to flooding.

Mold growing in a home due to flooding.

A home that is being gutted from flood damage.

A home that is being gutted from flood damage.

Two homes once stood here, but were recently demolished due to damage caused by hurricane Sandy.

Two homes once stood here, but were recently demolished due to damage caused by hurricane Sandy.

Trash on the curb.

Trash on the curb.

This is the community hub at 489 Midland Ave in Staten Island that the city is threatening to shut down. I spoke to someone working at the hub that said they had been told to shut down the past two days, but they refused to, so they’re still there. Please call in to ask that the Mayor’s office not evict much-needed community hubs – Public Advocate’s office: (212) 669-7250 9am-5pm.
Find more info here: http://occupywallst.org/article/mayors-office-threatens-imminent-eviction-247-comm/

Occupy Sandy volunteers being trained before heading out to help with cleanup.

Occupy Sandy volunteers being trained before heading out to help with cleanup.

Tools for cleanup at the Occupy Sandy Relief NYC hub on Olympia Blvd in Midland Beach.

Tools for cleanup at the Occupy Sandy Relief NYC hub on Olympia Blvd in Midland Beach.

Click here to find out how you can help with Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.

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