Hurricane Sandy Is New York's Katrina

Floods, fear, and FEMA failures

In the second week after the storm, a Red Cross truck pulled up at the corner.

"But they turned people away because they said it wasn't life or death," Winston says.

Occupy Sandy volunteers have set up a distribution node in the housing complex's common space. "They're making this bearable, barely," Winston says. "Otherwise, no one has been out here. We're alone."

A family searches through the remains of their Breezy Point home, destroyed in a massive fire during Hurricane Sandy. Slideshow: After Sandy, the On-Going Recovery
C.S. Muncy
A family searches through the remains of their Breezy Point home, destroyed in a massive fire during Hurricane Sandy. Slideshow: After Sandy, the On-Going Recovery
Nastaran Mohit, a labor organizer, led one of the early drives to assess the medical needs of stranded residents in the eastern Rockaways. Slideshow: After Sandy, the On-Going Recovery
C.S. Muncy
Nastaran Mohit, a labor organizer, led one of the early drives to assess the medical needs of stranded residents in the eastern Rockaways. Slideshow: After Sandy, the On-Going Recovery

On 112th Street, Terri Bennett is coordinating 10 crews equipped with gas-powered pumps to empty the water still standing in most of the basements nearby. Bennett is here with a handful of friends she met doing recovery work in Haiti after the earthquake. Calling themselves Respond and Rebuild, they've continued to work together on logistical relief in subsequent disasters, and compared with the wide-eyed tenderfoots flooding the Rockaways today, they constitute a sort of volunteer Delta Force.

Bennett and her teammates have partnered with Occupy Sandy, leveraging that group's glut of volunteers to multiply what they're able to do. With 100 people on the pump crews, she estimates they've pumped about 75 homes in the past week.

Respond and Rebuild has already brought in mold-remediation experts and other specialists to train Occupy Sandy team leaders for the next phase of recovery. Today, they're teaching them how to strip and clean flooded basements and first floors, using a house across the street from an Occupy Sandy headquarters as a sort of model.

It's a hard day for the owners of the home, Colleen Dalton and Jeff Vielandi, who are watching the trainees take apart their walls and haul the ruined vestiges of their life out into the yard for disposal.

Dalton is one of 12 siblings, and the house has been in her family for more than 60 years. A retired New York police officer, Dalton still can't believe the failure of the institutional response after the storm.

"The government didn't come," she says. "For the first time in my life, I felt completely abandoned." With the lights out and a minimal police presence, Dalton says she and Vielandi spent the first week after the storm scaring off would-be robbers.

"If the government can't get to me for five days, there should be martial law, a curfew," Dalton says. "To be an American, in 2012 . . ." She trails off. "I'm lucky I'm armed."

Dalton has a pair of bulldogs, and in the stairwell down to her ruined basement, there's still a poster of a specimen of her favorite breed, looking especially hangdog and emitting a mournful speech bubble: "I've had a RUFF day."

Standing amid the warped and buckled floorboards of her living room, Dalton is unsparing in her critique of the institutions that failed her.

On the Red Cross: "The Red Cross stinks," she says. "All that money, they should have been here. I don't think anyone in my family will donate to them again."

On the Long Island Power Authority: "LIPA has no excuse. I heard on 1010 WINS they hope to have our electricity back by Thanksgiving. So based on their track record so far, I'm trying to figure, that means what, by Christmas?"

On the state and city offices of emergency management: "Our local governments have failed us greatly. From our major loss, the gain of the volunteers and people we've met has been invaluable. But I'm not going to say I'm glad this happened."

"Whatever I lost here, I gained more than I lost," Vielandi says, choking back tears. "We went through hairy times. But these kids took my head out of my hands."

The devastation in the Rockaways is vast, the amount of work still to be done—physical, organizational, emotional—is overwhelming. But it's only one corner of the city, and there are many more where the storm hit just as hard. In Coney Island, Sheepshead Bay, Red Hook, and Staten Island, the problems are all slightly different. But the commonalities are striking.

On a Sunday two weeks after the storm, the New Dorp section of Staten Island still looks like it was hit by a hurricane. The tiny bungalows down in the flats are mostly ruined. On many of them, you can still see the mark—five and six feet high in places—where the storm surge crested. The streets are full of debris: a sodden couch, a door, deck lumber, the waterlogged ruins of a life piled into heavy black contractor bags waiting for the omnipresent Department of Sanitation trucks to haul them away.

On the broad grassy plain of Miller Field, a white tent glitters in the sun. White trailers cluster in the park, and the heavy trucks of the National Guard idle in orderly rows. It took more than a week after the storm, but FEMA has arrived in New Dorp.

Neighborhood residents are largely unimpressed.

"They're in their little tents, waiting for people to come to them," says Steve Chati, who lives in a brick single-story on Topping Street. "It's ridiculous. You set up all the way over there, we're supposed to come to you? Where were you for the first week? It's offensive."

Two blocks away, a parking lot on Cedar Grove Avenue is swarming with people. Donations are rolling in: huge boxes of hand sanitizer, toilet paper, work gloves, the ubiquitous and universally problematic loads of unsorted clothes. To one side, the staff of Rachael Ray's television show are cooking up hot dogs and baked ziti.

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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.

 
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