November 29, 2012
To my fellow New Yorkers,
One month. It’s hard to fathom that it has been a month already since our worlds were turned upside down. Hurricane Sandy struck a month ago today; claiming over a hundred lives, tearing homes and communities to shreds, leaving thousands homeless and a city in utter chaos.
Though the relief effort has been a truly remarkable thing to witness, I cannot help but notice something even more pressing—the lack of response from organizations like the Red Cross and FEMA. On TV they all make it seem like they care, as though they’re getting involved up to their elbows in the relief efforts while in reality, we’re lucky of the soles of their shoes have touched the neighborhoods devastated by this anomaly of nature.
When it comes down to it; in Brooklyn alone, there are still an estimated 400 Con Ed customers without power, truly there is not much Con Ed can do until some landlords get off their arses to repair damaged panel boxes—this is where the city should be stepping in—not planning to step in as Mayor Bloomberg said in a press conference earlier this week. (For those who are still trying to cut through the bureaucratic red tape, see the excerpt at the bottom of this article.)
As I sit here in my comfortable little home with my Christmas tree glowing softly, I cannot help but be plagued by guilt when thinking of those who are still without the comforts of home. I have done my best to help as many as I can, there is still so much more to do, especially since the Holiday season is now in full swing, and have encouraged others to the same.
I am warmed by organizations that have sprung into action to assist these people in their attempt to have some sort of Holiday like Staten Island’s It Takes a Family, Gerritsen Beach’s Gifts for Gerritsen, secretsandy.org, Help Brooklyn Sandy Victims, Gerritsen Beach Sandy Relief, Giving Back to Those Affected By Sandy and Rockaway Relief’s Facebook page which are listing places where you can participate and drop off gifts (especially for the little ones). I often stop to be thankful for social networking sites like Twitter® and Facebook®, without them, none of these relief efforts would have been possible. Please take a moment to look through the slideshow for information on benefits and ways to help the survivors of Hurricane Sandy.
Though it makes me quite proud to be from Brooklyn to see the way that we have banded together; not just for our own communities but for others that have been destroyed as well, it enrages me to know that organizations like the Red Cross; in this writers opinion, hasn’t done anything for these neighborhoods. I am quite sure that you have seen on TV, or read about them being in townships in New Jersey, and in Manhattan itself, but their presence has not impacted any of the following neighborhoods:
- Coney Island (Brooklyn)
- Sheepshead Bay (Brooklyn)
- Canarsie (Brooklyn)
- Gerritsen Beach (Brooklyn)
- Red Hook (Brooklyn)
- Rockaway (Queens)
- Breezy Point (Queens)
- Far Rockaway (Queens)
- Midland Beach (Staten Island)
- New Dorp (Staten Island)
These are just to name a few neighborhoods off the top of my head. Let me put it this way…it is so bad that Staten Island borough President James Molinaro is telling his constituents to hold back their donations from the organization because of the appalling way they have handled this situation. As of the beginning of November; the Red Cross had collected over $150 million dollars towards the Sandy relief efforts, yet no one has seen them. One source has even informed me that when they finally did show their faces in the ravaged neighborhood of Gerritsen Beach, one of the volunteers had the audacity to hand her an apple while bragging about the Nets game he attended—courtesy of the American Red Cross…one has to take a step back and say, “Really? WHERE are the donations going?” Maybe it will take you knowing that the Red Cross is putting some of its volunteers in some swanky SoHo hotel for a total of over $181,000 while there are those who are still in the cold and dark, to start questioning what is really going on and where is this money going.
To my fellow New Yorkers—it is time. I truly wrote this with a very heavy heart. We are no longer in a position to just ask questions, we need to start demanding answers.
Ms. Michelle Horton
(Source: ABC News) [Mayor Bloomberg]…launched NYC Rapid Repairs earlier this month to streamline the process for restoring power, heat and hot water to damaged homes. Under the typical process, homeowners are responsible for arranging repair work, and applying for federal reimbursement. Through NYC Rapid Repairs and in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the City coordinates assessments and repair work so that they happen more quickly and efficiently. The City also covers the construction costs. Homeowners can enroll in NYC Rapid Repairs by visiting NYC.gov or calling 311. A FEMA ID number is required and can be provided through DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-3362. The Rapid Repairs teams will work closely with City agencies, including the Department of Buildings and Department of Housing Preservation and Development, to make sure that any necessary inspections and certifications are done as quickly as possible.