Hurricane Sandy Is New York's Katrina

Floods, fear, and FEMA failures

"We're doing the government's job right now, surveying people's needs," Mohit says. "For the most part, we're seeing a lot of chronic medical conditions: asthma. Diabetes. High blood pressure. In some neighborhoods, we have a lot of HIV/AIDS patients and a lot of methadone users. We need HIV meds. We definitely need a lot of psych meds. That's a big one."

Mohit doesn't really want to be on the road in the storm, but she promised a homebound resident an albuterol delivery before the day is out, so she's still going. She makes the drop-off on a dark stretch of Beach 117th Street, then swings around for a last pass at the only open pharmacy. Unfortunately, the pharmacist tells Mohit, her paperwork doesn't contain some information needed to fill the script. Mohit nods, exhausted. She'll deal with it tomorrow. She heads back to her improvised headquarters, a high-ceilinged storefront that was, until the storm, a fur shop. During the day, volunteer doctors and nurses see patients in a curtained-off corner, and an army of untrained census takers comes and goes, adding to the ever-growing list of isolated people in need of drugs and medical care. At this hour, with the snow falling and the nor'easter's tide about to crest, the makeshift clinic is empty, and Mohit is alone in the space, standing under the collection of coats and stoles that still hangs from the pressed-tin ceiling.

"It's a lot," she says, sighing. "Because it's not just the storm. Long before Sandy, Far Rockaway was devastated by a different kind of hurricane, called poverty. But it's really frustrating. We need doctors and nurses and social workers and psychologists and EMTs. We're doing our best to fill the gap, but we need a lot of help."

Serving thousands of hot meals in the first weeks, Sikh volunteers 
were among the first to respond to the disaster in the Rockaways. Slideshow: After Sandy, the On-Going Recovery
Jenna Pope/batmanwi.com
Serving thousands of hot meals in the first weeks, Sikh volunteers were among the first to respond to the disaster in the Rockaways. Slideshow: After Sandy, the On-Going Recovery
After Sandy’s storm surge, Colleen Dalton sprays to prevent mold in her house on 112th Street, which has been in her family for more than 60 years. Slideshow: After Sandy, the On-Going Recovery
C.S. Muncy
After Sandy’s storm surge, Colleen Dalton sprays to prevent mold in her house on 112th Street, which has been in her family for more than 60 years. Slideshow: After Sandy, the On-Going Recovery

Less than a mile away from the Rockaways as the crow flies, just across the Marine Parkway Bridge, the institutional disaster responders are massing at Floyd Bennett Field. FEMA and the National Guard have set up a headquarters at the former airfield, and upwards of 150 ambulances and EMT crews are gathered from across the country.

In the first rush after the storm, these emergency medical responders were frantically busy with the evacuation of NYU Langone and Bellevue, transporting patients out of the damaged hospitals to safer facilities.

But after that burst of activity, the orders suddenly stopped coming. EMT crews idled for days on end, waiting for direction, growing increasingly exasperated as the hours and days ticked by.

A private recovery worker providing transport and logistical support to the first responders told the Voice about receiving a request for blankets and sleeping bags needed at Floyd Bennett Field. He was confused—wasn't that the FEMA headquarters? Shouldn't goods like that be going out to the city?

"I called my contact back for clarification," the logistics worker tells the Voice. "He says to me: 'We're firefighters and EMTs and nurses. We've been here for days, and they haven't let us off the compound, they haven't given us marching orders, they haven't even given us our equipment. We've been sleeping on plastic chairs since we got here.'"

Through his work with other relief operations, the logistics worker knew there was acute need just down the road for medical checks, prescriptions, and other work for which the medical workers would be perfectly suited.

"I asked, 'Why haven't you been sent out?'" he says. "Then he just lays the story on me, tells me about all the personnel they have out there, more than 100 ambulances, two paramedics per ambulance, everybody waiting for marching orders."

Horrified, the logistical worker offered to help transport them to a place where they could be useful.

"He said they couldn't do it because FEMA had them all under contract, and they couldn't go out without FEMA's say-so. They were so frustrated. They came all this way, and now they're not going anywhere, and there's something in their contract telling them they can't even throw up their arms and say 'Fuck it' and go into the city and do good."

Trying to get an official explanation for the idle EMTs only reveals further interagency confusion. A FEMA spokesperson told the Voice the federal agency was only at Floyd Bennett Field in a support capacity, and EMTs were under the direction of the state and city offices of emergency management. The city OEM didn't return requests for comment. A spokesperson for the state OEM said the EMTs had federal contracts and directed inquiries back to FEMA.

Geographically speaking, Cross Bay Boulevard roughly bisects the Rockaway Peninsula. But the socioeconomic terrain of the Rockaways makes geography almost irrelevant. West of the midpoint, in the higher-numbered streets, homes are bigger and residents more affluent. Public-housing projects and single-room-occupancy apartment buildings in the lower-numbered blocks weight the population heavily to the east. Three-quarters of the population of the Rockaways lives east of Cross Bay Boulevard, including 80 percent of the children and two-thirds of the senior citizens living alone.

A week after the storm, the city had deployed three "warming buses" to the peninsula and one emergency-distribution service center, and designated two sites where emergency buses would pick up residents and take them to a shelter. None of this infrastructure was located on the eastern half of the peninsula, where the overwhelming majority of the need was.

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
25 comments
kc10710
kc10710

New York will be up and running better than before in a couple of years. 9th Ward STILL has hand-painted street signs.

kc10710
kc10710

Super Storm Sandy is NOTHING compared to Hurricane Katrina. Yes, both devastating but can not be compared to each other. Katrina was catastrophic.

coachd
coachd

NICK PINTO    NOV 25 2012

 

Please publicize the fact that today, still, people on Far Rockaway Beach 51st Street still do

 NOT have recieved clothing.

Tthe big shipment of clothing that came before the weekend was  stored overnight in a large Warehouse.

Which was burglarized during the night, leaving the  place EMPTY !!  

A friend who lives on Beach 51st still does not have warm coats for her three kids!

 

People also do NOT have food. 

My acquaintance was punched in the face  as she stood  on the line for food a day ago, at her own building on Beach 51st street.!!

And there are no stores to buy food from !!

 

On the other hand please also publicize that the Community Church of the Nazarene, on

 1414 Central Ave, has been heroically creating  meals for thousands, while the big organizations do little...

 

This past Thanksgiving Holiday, as well as today, on Sunday, The Church got the cooperation

of B'nai Jeshurung Congregation , from the Upper West Side; and MASBIA, a wonderful organization that feeds the needy, From Brooklyn,

 

The food  that MASBIA prepared - paid for by donation to B;nai Jeshurun - was ferried to the Church of the NAZARENE by BJ volunteers.

 

And, again, the big organizations whose job it is to fee the victims did nothing.

 

Thank You.

 DP

fffghyhjmnnm
fffghyhjmnnm

It's one of the best articles I've read in a while, but I agree the headline comes across as trolling for a click which is something I see increasingly here. I'm not going to get hung up on it, still liked the article, but this was not Katrina. I think it's a poor way to sell a great article.

DavidNutzuki
DavidNutzuki

HELP OUR PLANET COULD BE ON FIRE MAYBE?

 

Yup it's just like Bush's Katrina but this time it's not Obama's fault its OUR fault because WE angered the weather gods.......we must pay and feel bad about it. Isn't Liberal guilt fun?

 

Libs think so highly of themselves that they think they can push the powers of Nature around and control the weather but we all know weather isn't the same as climate :)

 

Libs have leaders who promise to make the weather nicer and colder with taxes.

 

Climate Change is NOT a crisis until the scientists start saying it “IS” and “WILL” be a crisis, not just “MIGHT” and “COULD BE” a crisis. Real planet lovers welcome the good news of exaggeration of the “crisis”.

 

Not one IPCC warning is NOT peppered in “maybes”

 

stanchaz
stanchaz

I place the whole damn blame for Hurricane Sandy

squarely on the slouching shoulders of Pat Robertson. 

Hmm .....where have I heard THAT line before?

Well, never mind.

Obviously, it was only a matter of time

 ...before God, in her inscrutable wisdom,

got really really really pissed off at Pat Robertson

for having the gall, the sheer arrogance, 

of claiming to speak for her ...

just babbling at the mouth,

time and time again.

A direct pipeline to the Almighty!

God did this, God told me. God loves that, God wants this. 

Hey, like it was ENOUGH already!

Trust me. Sandy was her way of saying:

Shut the F**K UP Pat!

And no one ever said that she was a just God, did they?

Just look around .

You don't need me to tell you that.

Just drop a few coins in the collection plate as you leave.

 

 

harveyharv1
harveyharv1

was a planned attack  Hurricane Sandy ....just ask James Bond .. what happened was man made .. guess it sounds far fetched .. but if u saw any one of the James Bond movies .. u know it can happen this is an planned attack ..no prove but i'm watching too many movies ..  right.   Village Voice is the best newsletter & paper to read 

srjmsbnd
srjmsbnd

I don't read articles and stories I read contextually many stories and the real story behind this storey is not in this article but revealed in "How Good Are Brooklyn's Japanese Noodle Spots? BY ROBERT SIETSEMA" which was posted on or about the same time by the same Village Voice in the same city run by the same bunch of corrupt half witted conceited political hacks that got people settle for as the same lesser of evils!

 

There is no American society that collapsed and never recovered with the Johnstown Pa floods the largest manmade disasters ever created, or Katrina another largest manmade disaster ever created, like the Earthquake which collapsed the elevated section of the Los Angles freeway  from which America should have gotten a wake up call for new leadership. Leadership that changes the same of means that this two-party police state operates.

 

So if you reactionary dupes ever catch on and have real need for a new and fresh perspective not under the control of your local neighborhood Gestopo Snitch and agent development administration you know where to cal as what you have found so far is not the solution it is the problem.

suelord
suelord

The reference to Katrina is sheer ignorance. I live on the Jersey Shore and the response is nothing short of incredible.

Lives were lost and this photo is a joke. Perhaps the epitome of bad taste.

cryptocahawban
cryptocahawban

This might be the most offensive connection EVER. Do you know that the Katrina death toll is over EIGHTEEN HUNDRED people? And a whole region is still recovering 7 years later? Shame on you.

grrlapoet
grrlapoet

@CarrieM213 @macfathom its not linking to the page

Lussenpop
Lussenpop

@bbierschbach Nertz. But not unexpected. I'll pour out a totally unfair pitcher for you.

Lussenpop
Lussenpop

@bbierschbach Also, you are sweet. Thanks for sharing it.

Lussenpop
Lussenpop

@bbierschbach Paddling back from the Island of Lost Minneapolites in a few hours ...

ParableJean
ParableJean

@rdevro I am so grateful to live in Florida. If struck by a hurricane at least I won't be cold. Hugs to all the heroes helping up there

rebecca611
rebecca611

Great article Nick.  I believe I met you at St. Gertrudes a couple of weeks ago.  Captures perfectly what is going on down there.

lynnredgrave
lynnredgrave

@coachd after distruction of sandy my friends start working with a website and he made 7800$ month..here is website .. FLY38.ℂOM

knightryder7
knightryder7

 @suelord

 It might have been incredible for you Sue, but what's incredible is the fact that Fema and the Red Cross was invisible for weeks in other areas. I'll bet you watch Jersey Shores because you're mindless. This article is spot on. I have many friends and relatives living in those areas and the only help they got was themselves and volunteers for weeks. Twit. .

bobbyblue
bobbyblue

 @suelord When the cops start shooting at you for for trying to find food to feed your family, when you are the only one left defending your house against burglars, when dead people are left in the gutters and in the attics, when the president decides it's more important to eat cake than to take care of a drowning city, and he, unlike presidents before him, refuses to put relief in place before the flood, then bungles it badly after, when you are driven out of your house by troops, when you are forced to walk through knee deep water for miles to a "pick up area", then told "no, it's not here, it's over there", when it is weeks before utilities are restored, when it takes months to get compensation for damages, then you have to haggle over every dime, and they still lose your paper work, THen, you can compare it to Katrina

knightryder7
knightryder7

 @cryptocahawban

 That has nothing to do with the article being offensive. It only proves my point further. Even after several years the government still hasn't done its job. They're both terrible tradgedies none the less. Counting of bodies doesn't make it worse. Tragic for the people of Louisiana too. I been down there a few times, what a shame.  

srjmsbnd
srjmsbnd

 @cryptocahawban nice guilt trip of a political rationale and excuse you got there as American in its anti-socialist, anti-communist, anti-government, prop-privatized, back to the future acid space walk is quite unprepared for any sort of disaster, war so:

 

I don't care what your idiot sense of decorum, civility and aesthetics is but I have not heard you say a damn thing worth hearing as it i heartbreaking to watch from a distance people struggling in the Rockaways of what has become an the ass backwards state of Bourgeoistan with jerks like you yapping.

 

Say what you like about all the communists that got elected in America before Reagan the Bushes Reagan The Clintons and Obama made Nixon look liberal so go to hell.

knightryder7
knightryder7

 @suelord

 I have a job and a nice home overlooking Puget sound, idiot. What does having a job have to do with my response to you? Just goes to show you DON'T read an article thoroughly. If you actually did your homework you'd know that NO HELP has come in many areas and people are suffering.

 

Around The Web

Loading...