As people across the country are still feeling the impact of Hurricane Sandy that killed nearly 100 Americans and 69 people in the Caribbean. The response to the disaster continues to go on as America recovers from the Hurricane.
FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate and Red Cross Senior Vice President of Disaster Services Charley Shimanski recently held a conference call with reporters including rootshed.com about the efforts made to bring stability to the areas that have been hardest hit by the perfect storm.
With Mr. Shimanski of the Red Cross Saying, “I know this is a frustrating time for the people affected by this storm.” Going into detail of the operations and outreach programs that the Red Cross has in New York City, Mr. Shimanski added that, “We are working hard to get help where it is needed.”
But many New Yorkers feel as if the help is not getting to where it needs to be fast enough, and that the wealthier parts of the city have received more help than the poorer ones.
Staten Island has one of the hardest hit places by the storm. Out of all the causalities in NYC more than half of them came from Staten Island, and many of the locals there have expressed outrage over the slow response to their city compared to that of lower Manhattan.
With many feeling that the city was forgotten. The Borough President of Staten Island, James Molinaro gave a press conference, saying, “We need help.. All those people at the American red cross, those people making big salaries, should be out here on the frontline, and I am disappointed.” Expressing frustration over the lack of support shown to Staten Island, Mr. Molinaro added, “And my advice to the people of Staten Island is: Do not donate to the American Red Cross, let them get their money elsewhere.”
According to Vice President Shimanski, The red cross came into Staten Island to provide relief while the press conference was being given.”The Red Cross was on their way with relief trucks as soon as his Press Conference was over, and Mr. Molinaro was very grateful for that.” Mr. Shimanski added.
FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate added that more than 18 Million people have applied for FEMA assistance including rental houses for those whose homes have been destroyed, Mr. Fugate said that the rental homes could last up to 18 months.
President Obama had a meeting at FEMA headquarters this morning, with FEMA Administrator Criag Fugate, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other government officials about the disaster.
In his speech at FEMA headquarters the President emphasied that we have a long way to go until things are back to normal. The President said that, “It is critical for us to get power back on as quickly as possible.”
The President was well aware of the needs facing the city, there have been weather reports that say another winter storm could impact the New York area next week. Causing extra concern for those who do not have power and have suffered enough already. With President Obama saying, “As we start seeing the weather get a little bit colder, people can’t be without power for long periods of time, without heat for long periods of time. And so what we’re doing is starting to shift to identify where we can have temporary housing outside of shelters so people can get some sense of normalcy.”
President Obama received updates throughout the day from his team on current response and recovery efforts, and spoke directly with state and local officials from across the affected areas.
On Friday, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and FEMA Deputy Administrator Richard Serino traveled to Staten Island, NY to meet with state and local officials, first responders, and disaster survivors and view ongoing response and recovery efforts of the storm.
To help bring gas into the parts of New York that have been affected by the Hurricane. Secretary Napolitano recently issued a temporary, blanket waiver of the Jones Act to immediately allow additional oil tankers coming from the Gulf of Mexico to enter Northeastern ports. This will provide more fuel to the region. But in spite of the Government’s efforts to bring gas into New York there are still many without gas and power. With people standing in long lines for hours just to get a few gallons of gas, it has yet to be seen just how much impact the blanket waiver will really have on the area.
Disaster Recovery Centers are opening in the hardest hit areas. Seven Disaster Recovery Centers are open in New York, two in New Jersey and two in Connecticut, and more continue to open. Additional disaster recovery centers are being planned. Specialists from the state, FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will be on hand to answer questions and provide information on the types of assistance available to survivors. To find a disaster recovery center location, check out the disaster recovery center locator at FEMA.gov/disaster-recovery-centers or by mobile phone at m.fema.gov.
Federal and state personnel are on the ground to conduct joint preliminary damage assessments in several states. So far assessments have been made for counties in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Virginia; and are being scheduled for Florida. These assessments are designed to give the governor of each state a better picture of damages, and to determine if a request for further federal support is needed. Other assessments may be scheduled as needed and requested.
The unity that has been shown throughout the storm is remarkable. As President Obama said in his speech at the American Red Cross, “We make sure that we respond as a nation and remind ourselves that whenever an American is in need, all of us stand together to make sure that we’re providing the help that’s necessary.”
The 9/11 memorial also received a lot of damage due to the hurricane, raising questions of when it would it reopen. Joe Daniels who is the CEO of the memorial sent out a e-mail to supporters saying, “9/11 showed us what we’re capable of when we come together as a city and a nation. Because of this spirit of unity, I know our recovery is not in doubt.”