Tag Archive: Disaster

Jan 02 2013

The House Goes Home Leaving Sandy Victims Behind

Late last night the House of Representatives voted to pass the Senate’s “Fiscal Cliff” bill and, by unanimous consent a few meaningless bills that will go nowhere. What they didn’t do, that Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) had promised they would, was pass the $60.4 billion Sandy Relief Bill that passed the Senate last week. The reaction from the regions representatives was scathing, especially from Republicans.

“I’m saying right now, anyone from New York or New Jersey who contributes one penny to Congressional Republicans is out of their minds,” Representative Peter T. King, a Long Island Republican, said during an interview on CNN on Wednesday morning. “Because what they did last night was put a knife in the back of New Yorkers and New Jerseyans. It was an absolute disgrace.”

And Representative Michael G. Grimm, a Republican from Staten Island, said the failure to vote was a “betrayal.” He urged that action be taken as soon as possible.

“It’s not about politics,” he said. “It’s about human lives.” [..]

President Obama issued a statement Wednesday calling for an immediate vote.

“When tragedy strikes, Americans come together to support those in need,” he said. “I urge Republicans in the House of Representatives to do the same, bring this important request to a vote today, and pass it without delay for our fellow Americans.”

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, a Republican, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, a Democrat, released a joint statement condemning the decision not to vote on the storm aid bill this week.

“With all that New York and New Jersey and our millions of residents and small businesses have suffered and endured, this continued inaction and indifference by the House of Representatives is inexcusable,” they said. They added, “This failure to come to the aid of Americans following a severe and devastating natural disaster is unprecedented.” [.]

“Denying emergency aid to Superstorm Sandy victims is a new low for House Republicans,” said Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, a New Jersey Democrat. “When our neighbors in other states are knocked down by emergency events, we put partisan politics aside and extend a helping hand to help them get back up. Helping struggling families recover from disasters has never been a partisan issue in Washington and it never should be. New Jersey and New York families have been hurt badly by Sandy and it is shameful that Washington Republicans are adding to their pain by standing in the way of their recovery.” [..]

“Speaker Boehner’s failure to allow vote on Sandy bill is a disgrace,” Mr. Schumer said in a statement. Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York, issued a blistering statement on Wednesday morning, calling the inaction “indefensible and shameful.” She called on Mr. Boehner to visit damaged neighborhoods on Staten Island and in the Rockaways, but said, “I doubt he has the dignity nor the guts to do it.”

“Speaker Boehner should call his members back for an up-or-down vote today and allow them to vote their consciences,” she said. “Anything less is an insult to New York.”

Outgoing chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Peter King (R-NY), who represents part of the area devastated by Sandy, was the most scathing.

“It pains me to say this. The fact is the dismissive attitude that was shown last night toward New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut typifies a strain in the Republican party”

“I can’t imagine that type of indifference, that type of disregard, that cavalier attitude being shown to any other part of the country. We’re talking about real life and death situations here.”

It was in the low 20º F’s here in NYC this morning with wind chill factors near 0º F. There are still thousands living in homes and apartment buildings that have intermittent to no heat, hot water, or electricity. For many food and medical care is still a crisis. The official death toll from the storm is about 143 for the region. The fact is there are many more deaths that can be attributed to the storm, either from accidents or exacerbation of medical conditions from stress or lack of access to medical care or medications. The fears now is that people will die from hypothermia in their own homes that they fear to leave because of vandalism. Most have lost everything and have struggled to keep what is left and rebuild their live, they are afraid to leave and still willing to risk their lives to keep what is left. Yet, the House leadership has left for vacation refusing to do their jobs.

I don’t often agree with Peter King, as a matter of fact I can’t recall ever agreeing with him, but he spoke for me and everyone living here in the region, especially those still struggling to survive.

Dec 03 2012

Rescuing the Volunteers of Hurricane Sandy

Aimen Youseff's Community Aid, Midland BeachOver a month, New York City is still reeling from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Many people are still without power, heat and far too many without a place to live. Volunteers are still needed in the hardest hit areas of Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. The last thing that the residents of these neighborhoods need is the heavy handed control tactics of Mayor Michael Bloomberg who likes to maintain the illusion that everything is going well and no more help is needed. Now all he needs is $32 billion in federal aid to repair Manhattan’s damaged infrastructure and expand the subway system, not protect it.

After reading the reports that the mayor was threatening to stop volunteers from distributing supplies and serving hot meals that were posted here, Docudharma and Daily Kos by ek hornbeck, I went to Midland Beach to spend a couple of hours talking to the people and walking around the area. Despite the destruction, the dwindling interest of the city to help clean up and frusrations, the attitude is perseverance and determination to rebuild and stay in their home community.

The one person I really wanted to meet was Aiman Youssef, whose home was destroyed, but instead of seeking refuge elsewhere he remained to set up a distribution hub on his property on Midland Ave. With the help of friends, neighbors and community volunteers they are offering cleaning supplies and equipment (mobs, buckets, crowbars, bleach), clothing, medical supplies and non-perishable food. I spoke with Mr. Youseff and his merry band of volunteers who call themselves the “Yellow Team” and say they are here for the duration. This is their home. They have set up a facebook page and aligned with Occupy Sandy, the offshoot of Occupy Wall St that is coordinating Sandy relief efforts through out the city.

There is an outdoor kitchen under a canopy that serves free hot food and coffee that’s located in a driveway. All of the tables are neatly stacked with the free for the taking supplies, extending along the curb side from in front of Mr. Youseff’s home for half a block in front of LaRocca’s Family Restaurant. The street and the side walk are cleaned up by the volunteers. One of the volunteers told me that they are being very careful since the city’s threat to shut the Hub, as it’s called, down for safety reasons. There is still a large police presence in the neighborhood and most likely will be for sometime to come.

The local NBC News interviewed Mr. Youseff about the lack of information and growing frustration with the city

View more videos at: http://nbcnewyork.com.

It’s amazing that the city would be so concerned about the safety of the Hub when the streets in the area are still littered with piles of debris in front of homes that not only block the sidewalk but spill into the street. Driving and walking down narrow one way streets is hard enough with the vehicles of volunteer workers and pick up trucks but add broken glass, boards with rusting nails sticking out, household appliances, and moldy, rotting furnishing and there is the real safety hazard.

This house is next to another food kitchen across from the Yellow Team Hub.

Uncollected Debris next to Food Kitchen, Midland Beach

This building under renovation is on the corner opposite the food kitchen.

Debris next to Food Kitchen, Midland Beach

This house has been condemned and is just around the corner for the Hub.

Debris in front of condemned home, Midland Beach

This is the other side of that street.

Side Street & uncollected debris, Midland Beach

Residents were telling me that this has been like this for weeks and the piles grow daily. Where is the city? I was there nearly 2 hours talking to some very frustrated people who had no kind words for the mayor. During all that time, I didn’t see one sanitation truck. Yes, it’s Sunday but this is a disaster area and clean up here should be a 24/7 job. There is no excuse. The dime is on FEMA.

These are not wealthy people. They are blue collar workers. Some own and operate businesses out of their homes; some work for the city. They own; they rent. Many have lived here all their lives, while others moved here because Staten Island is unique. We have deer and zebras.

All is not gloom, there is laughter and smiles and dreams of a better future for Midland Beach. The Yellow Team is even looking forward to the holidays and put up a Christmas Tree. My picture didn’t come out, so here;s one from the team’s facebook page.

Dreaming of Yellow Christmas

Those wishing to volunteer or donate non-perishable food, diapers, personal care items (toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap), cleaning supplies (especially bleach) or even (ahem) money, you can contact Mr Youseff or Hannah, the Yellow team coordinator here

Demand the Mayor’s office end community hub eviction and instead support hubs with space and equipment  by writing, calling, faxing or e-mailing:

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg

City Hall

New York, NY 10007

PHONE 311 (or 212-NEW-YORK outside NYC)

E-MAIL:

http://www.nyc.gov/html/mail/html/mayor.html

Or contact the Public Advocate’s office:

   (212) 669-7250, 9am-5pm

   GetHelp@pubadvocate.nyc.gov

Nov 15 2012

Hurricane Sandy Disaster: Disaster Capitalism v. Progressive Reform

Sandy’s Devastation Opens Space for Action on Climate Change and Progressive Reform

At a speaking event in New York City this week, award-winning journalist and author Naomi Klein discussed why the reconstruction from Superstorm Sandy is actually a great place to usher in progressive change. Klein’s latest article for The Nation magazine is called, “Superstorm Sandy – a People’s Shock?” She is the author of the best-selling book, “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism,” and is now working on a book about climate change

Transcript can be read here

Superstorm Sandy-a People’s Shock?

Less than three days after Sandy made landfall on the East Coast of the United States, Iain Murray of the Competitive Enterprise Institute blamed New Yorkers’ resistance to big-box stores for the misery they were about to endure. Writing on Forbes.com, he explained that the city’s refusal to embrace Walmart will likely make the recovery much harder: “Mom-and-pop stores simply can’t do what big stores can in these circumstances,” he wrote. [..]

The same day, Frank Rapoport, a lawyer representing several billion-dollar construction and real estate contractors, jumped in to suggest that many of those public works projects shouldn’t be public at all. Instead, cash-strapped governments should turn to “public private partnerships,” known as “P3s.” That means roads, bridges and tunnels being rebuilt by private companies, which, for instance, could install tolls and keep the profits. [..]

Ray Lehmann, co-founder of the R Street Institute, a mouthpiece for the insurance lobby (formerly a division of the climate-denying Heartland Institute), had another public prize in his sights. In a Wall Street Journal article about Sandy, he was quoted arguing for the eventual “full privatization” of the National Flood Insurance Program, the federal initiative that provides affordable protection from some natural disasters-and which private insurers see as unfair competition.

But the prize for shameless disaster capitalism surely goes to right-wing economist Russell S. Sobel, writing in a New York Times online forum. Sobel suggested that, in hard-hit areas, FEMA should create “free trade zones-in which all normal regulations, licensing and taxes [are] suspended.” This corporate free-for-all would, apparently, “better provide the goods and services victims need.”

Ms. Klein is speaking on Friday night at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City as part of 350.org’s “Do the Math” tour with Bill McKibben.

Nov 13 2012

Bloomberg Holds Public Housing Residents Hostage

Mayor Bloomberg, NYCHA and HUD: Restore power to all NYCHA residents

CALL MAYOR BLOOMBERG: THE CITY’S RESPONSE TO OUR NYCHA NEIGHBORS IS UNACCEPTABLE.

Twelve days and counting after Sandy hit on October 29, children, parents, families, the elderly and disabled remain without lights, heat, hot water or power in New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA).

This is true for houses in Gowanus, Red Hook, the Rockaways, Coney Island and elsewhere.

John Rhea, the chairman of NYCHA, told The Huffington Post that he and the organization have been doing the best they could. Unfortunately, he said, these buildings happened to be located in the areas hardest hit by the hurricane. Yet, power in those hard hit areas has been restored – just not in NYCHA housing.

Mayor Bloomberg has not addressed or remedied the failure of his city’s response. Nor has the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which funds NYCHA in part, sent federal contractors or generators to help coordinate this unacceptable human emergency.

Instead, thousands of individual volunteers, and community-organizing and health organizations like Occupy Sandy, Children’s Health Fund, Masbia Soup Kitchen, Red Hook Initiative, Make the Road NY, CAAAV, Doctor’s Without Borders (launching it’s first effort ever within the United States), and numerous religious institutions have tried to fill in where Mayor Bloomberg and NYCHA have failed NYC residents in desperate need.

CALL MAYOR BLOOMBERG TODAY: 212-NEW-YORK (212-639-9675). Tell him the response has been unacceptable.

CALL HUD’s NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS TODAY: (202) 708-1112. Tell Secretary Shaun Donovan that their response has been unacceptable.

Sign this petition

Nov 13 2012

When Will the Recovery Reach the Poor?

On his show AC 360°, host Anderson Cooper interviewed Sophie Delaunay, the executive Director of Doctors Without Borders, on the organizations efforts to aid victims of Hurricane Sandy, especially in the Rockaways.

“We learned our lessons from Katrina when we thought the medical needs would be covered, and when we realized there were gaps it was too late for us to react,” says Sophie Delaunay.

She tells Anderson the most challenging place right now is the Rockaways in Queens where people who need help are homebound in high-rise apartment buildings and have had little contact with the outside world since they lost their electricity. The group is helping with a variety of needs, but 60% of the consultations are to assist with prescription refills.

NYCHA head tells tenants who are still without power that they’ll get a credit for their troubles – in January

by Greg B. Smith at New York Daily News

Calls it a ‘nice little Christmas present’ but has no answers for residents still struggling two weeks after Hurricane Sandy

Public tenants without heat, hot water and power for weeks will still have cough up their full rent before getting a credit in January – a refund that NYCHA Chairman John Rhea called “a nice little Christmas present.”

Rhea made the Scrooge-esque comment Monday when he showed up at the Red Hook Houses in Brooklyn, where tenants have lived in deplorable conditions since Hurricane Sandy hit Oct. 29.

He told one tenant, “Hang in there.” [..]

When Rhea showed up in Red Hook Monday, 4,015 residents there were still without heat and hot water and 2,125 were without power. Twenty-two of the project’s 32 buildings were either without heat and hot water or power. [..]

As of Monday, 4,400 NYCHA tenants in Red Hook, Coney Island and Far Rockaway, Queens, were still without power, while 18,000 residents in 14 developments in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan still had no hot water or heat.

NYCHA turned off elevators, hot water and heat two days before the storm hit in 26 low-lying developments near waterfronts and ordered tenants to evacuate.

Occupy Sandy Volunteer Sounds Alarm on ‘Humanitarian Crisis,’ Near-Complete Absence of Government Aid in Coney Island Projects

by Daniel Marans at Huffington Post

The situation in public housing projects in Coney Island, Brooklyn remains a “humanitarian crisis” in which the government and the Red Cross have been nearly completely absent, according to Eric Moed, a volunteer aid worker with Occupy Sandy. [..]

The projects in Coney Island remain without power, and often without water and necessities in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Accounts of these conditions have been corroborated in the New York Daily News.

Moed says all of the supermarkets on Coney Island have been flooded or looted.

The result is what Moed describes as a “humanitarian crisis.” Sick or older people may be vulnerable to death without heat, or food and water.

Moed routinely meets elderly residents who have been trapped alone in their dark, cold apartments since the storm hit. The elevators often do not work, and residents willing to brave the stairwells face darkness, human waste, and even crime. [..]

Whatever response there has been from the government — city, state, or federal — or the Red Cross, Moed says their presence in and around the Coney Island projects is non-existent, inadequate, or counterproductive. FEMA has set up a solitary aid trailer on what Moed calls the “sexy area” of Coney Island — near the famous amusement park and Nathan’s — which was not hit very hard. It awaits people seeking help, when those who most need it are stranded in high-rise buildings a few blocks away.

Moed insists that he does not assume anything about the government and Red Cross’s lack of a response, but says their absence is indisputable. “They’re literally not there. It’s not a criticism, it’s literally a fact,” he said. “I’ve been on the ground here for four days. I’ve seen zero FEMA people. Occasionally a Red Cross truck will come through with hot meals. But there’ll be one truck for 15-20 buildings.” [..]

The absence of government or Red Cross presence has left a vacuum of authority and accountability at a time when stranded residents are seeking it most. “The projects have had nobody to talk to,” Moed says. “People literally have no power, no food, no water, no bathrooms–they’re defecating in buckets. And there is no one to answer to for it.” For lack of a higher-level city government presence, presidents of public housing blocks with few resources have been left to address residents’ grievances. [..]

To donate to the Sandy relief effort, visit OccupySandy.org

Nov 10 2012

NYC Waterfront After Superstorm Sandy

Democracy Now! and Riverkeeper Tour NYC Waterfront After Superstorm Sandy, Sewage Leaks

Many of the East Coast’s waste treatment plants failed during Superstorm Sandy, causing them to release thousands of gallons of raw sewage into the area’s waterways. This mixed with other pollutants, like more than 330,000 gallons of diesel fuel spilled near Arthur Kill, the waterway that separates New Jersey from Staten Island. In this video report, Democracy Now! teams up with the watchdog group Riverkeeper to tour New York City’s industrial waterfront four days after the storm. They find mixed results from water samples taken along the way. The piece is produced by Democracy Now!‘s Renée Feltz and Sam Alcoff, and filmmaker Sara Kinney.

Click here to learn more about Riverkeeper.

Transcript can be read here

Nov 10 2012

Hurricane Sandy Disaster: Exposing the Failed State

You know you’re in trouble when The Weather Channel‘s Jim Cantore shows up in your neighborhood and stays for over a week. You’re in trouble when, nearly two weeks after the storm, you have international aid organizations start setting up medical clinics and groups like Occupy Sandy, an off shoot of Occupy Wall St., are more effective in helping in the worst stricken areas of the NYC than the mayor’s Office of Emergency Management, FEMA and the Red Cross. Thousands of people are still without power and heat. In many cases, they are trapped in highrise city housing projects with no water to even flush toilets, no where else to go and no sign of relief.

This is the first time that Doctor’s Without Borders has set up operations in the United States:

MSF And A “Global Disaster Zone” In The Rockaways

A block in from what remained of the beach and its shattered boardwalk, in a community meeting room on the ground floor of the darkened Ocean Village apartment towers, the international humanitarian-aid group Doctors Without Borders had set up an emergency clinic with a volunteer staff of a dozen or so doctors, nurses, and assorted health professionals. A folding table was piled high with medical supplies, and a sheet strung up in a corner created a makeshift private screening area. An empty Starbucks jug doubled as an ad hoc sharps disposal container. Misha Friedman, a Moldovan photographer in his thirties with a shaved head-a veteran of Doctors Without Borders missions from Sudan to Uzbekistan-was briefing a pair of volunteers about the dire health situation faced by 800 senior residents in a nearby housing complex who had had no running water or electricity for a week.

“No one’s been evacuated,” he told me. “There is no evacuation. Doctors have been flooded out, pharmacies have been closed. Some patients are on dozens of medications, and they kind of fall off the grid.”

All across Far Rockaway, high up in the darkened towers and out in the flooded houses, scores of sick and elderly people, cut off from access to their doctors and medical care, needed help. When the clinic door opened at 10 a.m., there was already a group of patients waiting. [..]

Prior to MSF’s arrival, much of the relief work was done by a highly organized group that had arrived on the scene earlier than most: Occupy Sandy. A new iteration of the lower Manhattan based anti-one-percent group, Occupy Sandy was incredibly fast and organized in its response, bringing food and supplies to hard-hit areas like New Dorp, Staten Island, and Red Hook, Brooklyn, as the official response only began. And it wasn’t slowing down; a week into the crisis, Occupy Sandy’s massive Rockaways relief effort looked like a DIY version of the Normandy landings. Its early reports of the dire medical need in Far Rockaway had helped stir Doctors Without Borders to action. The list of patients (Dr. Maureen) Suter was working from had been compiled by Occupy volunteers, who had canvassed the desolate blocks of the neighborhood and the darkened halls of housing projects, knocking on doors and assembling names of people with medical needs. Now Suter was taking that list to make some house calls. [..]

A disaster like Sandy reveals fractures in our public-health system. It pulls back the curtain on stark inequities and structural flaws, but long-term institution building is not MSF’s mission. It wants to get to an emergency quickly, and with a minimum of red tape, to fill the gaps in treatment while gargantuan institutions are just getting going. To foster that capability, Delaunay would like to see a sort of disaster waiver established that allows experienced organizations like MSF to do their work quickly and without fear of liability. As Delaunay put it, “We aim to have a very quick response, and a very brief presence.”

So MSF will not be staying long in the Rockaways. At a certain point, very soon, it will hand off the work it has done there to the larger governmental agencies responsible for maintaining public-health infrastructure. Delaunay was impressed by the size and scale of New York’s emergency system, their ability to get water and blankets to people. But as was shown by Sandy, a system so vast can be completely overwhelmed or overlook crucial deficiencies. “The continuum of care was not anticipated,” she says, and the city needs to rethink how to take care of its most vulnerable citizens during a large-scale and complex disaster.

Another MSF volunteer physician related what she encountered in one city highrise in the Rockaways:

DIRE SITUATION, 15 FLOORS UP

The situation in the Rockaways is dire: high-rises don’t have working elevators, street lights are dark and until a day or two ago, pharmacies had either been destroyed or were shuttered. The almost complete absence of police, coupled with the constant darkness, has left residents fearful of leaving their apartments.[..]

In one squalid building on the ocean’s edge that has been without power and heat for 11 days, the stairwell reeked of vomit and urine. And yet a steady stream or residents made the trek, some joking that at least they were getting exercise.

One case was especially concerning to the doctors was a couple living on the 15th floor. Victor Ocasio, 46, has chronic bronchitis, asthma and has been throwing up blood. His wife Lorraine Bryant, 42, is diabetic and obese and uses a walker. Both have been complaining of chest pains and wooziness.

“I’m scared to walk down those steps. I fell before and I’m scared I’ll fall again,” said Bryant. But she was resisting the idea of going to a shelter, where the doctors said she and her husband could get regular medical treatment.

“I’m scared to go into a shelter. Bad things happen there,” she said.

John Josey, 72, who has been bed bound since having a stroke some years ago, suffers from diabetes, high blood pressure and arthritis.

A home health aide who tends to him said the pharmacy where she normally fills his prescriptions washed away in the storm, and a family member had asked that a Doctors Without Borders volunteer visit to fill out new prescriptions.

This op-ed in The New York Times by Joe Nocera was a chilling indictment of the indifference of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and FEMA to the plight of the people in the hardest hit areas:

We drove farther east to Far Rockaway, a much poorer area. There were long lines at various churches that were serving as distribution centers. Although there were police officers everywhere, the hard work of getting Far Rockaway residents help had, once again, fallen to volunteers.

At the Church of the Nazarene in Far Rockaway, however, I did see a FEMA presence; I was told that FEMA had arrived on Thursday. You would think that FEMA, with all its expertise, would be coordinating the relief effort. But you would be wrong. When I asked one FEMA official what his workers were doing, he said they were mainly trying to make sure that residents applied for assistance. That is not insignificant, of course, but it’s not exactly leading the charge. [..]

When I called Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office to ask why so much of the relief effort had been left to volunteers, I got immense pushback. Cas Holloway, one of Bloomberg’s deputy mayors, told me that the city had handed out two million meals. The city was coordinating with the Salvation Army, he said, and was a big presence in the Rockaways. It had set up five distribution centers there. It was paying food trucks to give out free food.

Be that as it may, I can tell you that that is not the experience of many volunteers – or residents – of the Rockaways. Before the storm hit, Mayor Bloomberg said that New York City didn’t need FEMA’s help because the city had “everything under control.” You don’t have to spend much time in Queens to realize that New York City needs all the help it can get. It is extremely fortunate that it is getting so much help from volunteers.

Before we left the Rockaways, (Nan) Shipley and I met a man who had come into (city councilman, James) Sanders’s office looking for help. He had two children, he said, including a 2-month-old baby who had had bronchitis and had just gotten out of the hospital. “Our house is too cold,” he kept saying, wiping tears from his eyes. “The baby will get sick again. We need a place to stay.”

After talking to the man, Shipley walked back to the Church of the Nazarene to see if one of the FEMA officials could do something.

A few minutes later, she came back frowning. “He said to call 911,” she said.

Here is how you can help.

Occupy Sandy Recovery

Occupy Sandy is a coordinated relief effort to help distribute resources & volunteers to help neighborhoods and people affected by Hurricane Sandy. We are a coalition of people & organizations who are dedicated to implementing aid and establishing hubs for neighborhood resource distribution. Members of this coalition are from Occupy Wall Street, 350.org, recovers.org, InterOccupy.net and many individual volunteers.

Donate to Occupy Sandy in New York

Amount raised as of Nov. 10th: $378,610.00

Donate to Occupy Sandy in New Jersey

Amount raised as of Nov. 10th: $50.00

Occupy Sandy believes in mutual aid and the community that is formed through in-kind donations. In order to recognize that there is more than one form of capital, the money in this account will be invested in long-term disaster relief rebuilding projects and emergencies. All other needs will be filled through in-kind donations. The task of rebuilding communities is a marathon and not a sprint. We thank you for your donations and your support.

Current Needs – blankets (we have none) flashlights aaa batteries gallon ziplock bags cleaning hardware, especially brooms, flat shovels, mops masks and gloves hydrogen peroxide white vinegar any sort of baby/toddler food and formula duct and scotch tape tolitries (deoderents, tampons, soap, etc) can openers.

(WE NO LONGER NEED ANY GENERAL CLOTHING SUPPLIES)

FDL: Send 1,000 Blankets to Victims of Hurricane Sandy

Victims of Hurricane Sandy across the northeast need help immediately. Temperatures are plummeting and a Nor’easter is bearing down the coast.

Firedoglake’s Occupy Supply has many of the supplies these disaster victimes need, and we’re working with organizers at Occupy Sandy to get 1000 woobie, fleece and space blankets in the hands of those affected by the storm.

Can you chip in $20 to ship these blankets and get them to New York, so they can be distributed immediately?

100% of your contribution to Occupy Supply will be used to purchase and ship blankets and other essential supplies to victims of Hurricane Sandy. All items are American-made.

Doctors Without Borders is not accepting any more donations for the Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief. It has received more than enough to cover its operations in New York City Boroughs of Queens, Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Hoboken, New Jersey.

Nov 07 2012

Insult to Injury: Nor’easter hits NY, NJ & CT

11/7/12 NortheasterWith thousands still without electricity or even homes, the east coast from  is being hammered with a northeaster that is bring rain, sleet, snow, plummeting temperatures, high winds and warnings of coastal flooding.

This was a storm with no name but another huge, impossible-to-miss footprint on the weather maps. Its white swirl was smaller than the hurricane’s but still looked ferocious, and it promised to be tenacious, with a chilly brew of rain and wet snow. Road crews feared it would bring annoying slush and, later on, treacherous ice to hard-luck places where debris from the hurricane was still being cleared away. [..]

Gov. Chris Christie warned that the northeaster could set back the recovery effort. He said that many people could lose electricity again.

“I can see us actually moving backwards,” Mr. Christie said at a news conference at a firehouse on Long Beach Island, the barrier island that suffered some of the heaviest damage in last week’s storm. Long Beach Island had been reopened to residents, but the governor said he was cutting off access again.

Mr. Christie said that 369,000 homes in the state were still without power, down from a peak of 2.76 million. Consolidated Edison said early Wednesday that about 79,000 customers were still in the dark, including 15,000 in Brooklyn, 13,000 in Queens and 41,000 in Westchester County.

Staten Island still has 3,205 “customers” without power and high winds are expected to take down more overhead lines. As with Sandy, coastal flooding is expected:

As happened with the Halloween hurricane, this nor’easter will begin doing its work here just as today’s afternoon tide comes in on Staten Island. High tide in The Narrows, measured at Fort Wadsworth, is at 1:24 p.m. That could mean wind-driven tidal surges 3 to 4 feet above normal high-tide levels in some areas – plenty to further damage already compromised low-lying coastal areas.

On Staten Island, those storm surges are expected to be around 2 feet above normal. [..]

According to (Brian) Edwards, (a meteorologist with AccuWeather), “A north to northeasterly wind means that the most significant coastal flooding will occur along the coast of Delaware, central to northern New Jersey, the western end of the north shore of Long Island, N.Y. and eastern Massachusetts.”

He said the worst of the coastal flooding and strongest winds are expected during two phases on Wednesday. The two times that are of utmost concern across the region are during high tide Wednesday afternoon and a second high tide late Wednesday night/early Thursday morning.

Evacuations have been ordered in New York and New Jersey:

After Sandy killed 40 people in New York City, Bloomberg ordered evacuations of low-lying, hard-hit areas such as the Rockaways section of Queens and the south shore of Staten Island. Residents of at least two coastal New Jersey towns were also told to leave.

While FEMA said it was working with state and local authorities and was “ready to deploy additional resources if needed to respond to the Nor’easter,” the [FEMA centers were closed today “due to the weather”]:

They fly into disaster areas, but flee from raindrops.

FEMA disaster recovery centers in Hurricane Sandy-ravaged sections of the city that were supposed to provide assistance to hurricane victims went MIA Wednesday morning, posting signs saying that they were closed due to the approaching Nor’easter.

The temporary shuttering of the facilities, which help victims register for disaster relief, as well as city food distribution centers come even as many of those still reeling from the monster storm were not told that they had to leave the battered areas.

Nov 03 2012

In the Middle of the Night

Relief Reaching Staten Island

We are still in disaster mode.  

Nov 02 2012

Staten Island, NYC’s Forgotten Borough

This is where I live and work. I have spent most of my life training for, and dealing with, disasters around the world. Little did I ever expect to be in the middle of one in my own backyard. I am here for my family, my neighbors, my community and my first home city. I am here to try to make order out of chaos, to heal, comfort and console, starting with one life at a time.

As most of New York City inches toward normality, it’s becoming clear the scale of devastation is particularly bad in one part of the city: Staten Island.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has confirmed that least 37 New Yorkers died as a result of Hurricane Sandy-19 on Staten Island alone. Days after the superstorm slammed through the region-leaving a trail of destruction, power outages and flooding its wake-residents of Staten Island accused government agencies of responding much slower to their plight than to that of wealthier parts of the city. Many Staten Islanders are currently without electricity.

Despite being bigger than some of America’s biggest cities, like Boston and San Francisco, Staten Island is often overshadowed by its sister boroughs Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan. MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell shined a light on this quieter part of New York City in Thursday’s Rewrite segment on The Last Word:

   To see Staten Island-all of it-would be to rewrite your understanding of New York City. It is the place in New York City where wild deer run across roadways. It is not the New York you know. It is a place apart from New York City, five miles over the water on the ferry from Manhattan-and, in many ways, it might as well be a world away. Staten Island has almost everything that the rest of New York City has except skyscrapers. But it has much more.

   Wherever you live in America, Staten Island has a street that looks like a street in your town. Rich-looking, suburban streets with mansions, small town streets with handsome, humble homes that families hold onto for generations. If you got lost in the middle of the island, you could be in a spot that you might mistake for Vermont or West Virginia. It is America’s biggest small town.

I have sporadic internet connection and I’m connecting now through an satellite connection, as I was in Haiti and Gaza. I have taken to using Skype to connect with my family, friends and colleagues because cell service has been anywhere from nonexistent to barely useable it all depends on if you’re in an area where you have power and cell sites.

I’ve had a few flashbacks but I have a lot of good support in this boat. Just don’t anyone stand up and rock it, we would be hard pressed to deal with a capsize.

Thanks to Lawrence O’Donnell for telling the nation about our “little” island in the heart of New York City.