November 10, 2012

No gas, no heat, no food within 6 miles, the aftermath of Sandy

"A lot of us out here are fighting for our lives,” said Feliciano, 51. “A lot of people are desperate. They don't know where they are getting their next meal.

After traveling six miles by foot and by bus to bring food home to her five children in Brooklyn’s Coney Island neighborhood, Cherry Barnett broke down in tears.

"I've had it,” she said. “I don't want to live here anymore. We can't live like this."

Gas rationing begins in New York City

 Gas Rationing Nyc

No Heat Until Christmas

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.
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.
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.

What do we know about how older adults fare, emotionally, in a disaster like that devastating storm, which destroyed homes and businesses and isolated older adults in darkened apartment buildings, walk-ups and houses?

“They’re afraid of being alone,” she said in a telephone interview a few days after the storm. “They’re worried that if anything happens to them, no one is going to know. They feel that they’ve lost their connection with the world.”

“In geriatrics, we have this idea of the ‘geriatric cascade’ that refers to how a seemingly minor thing can set in motion a functional, cognitive and psychological downward spiral” in vulnerable older adults, said Dr. Mark Lachs, chief of the division of geriatrics at Weill Cornell Medical College. “Well, the storm was a major thing — a very large disequilibrating event — and its impact is an enormous concern.”
Be mindful of worrisome signs like unusual listlessness, apathy, unresponsiveness, agitation or confusion. These may signal that an older adult has developed delirium, which can be extremely dangerous if not addressed quickly, Dr. Nathanson said.

After Sandy, parish unites to save a couple’s wedding

The damage was so severe and so universal there can be little doubt plans for scores of weddings scheduled for the first weekend in November unraveled including Amanda and Michael’s.

On Nov. 1, Amanda and her mom, Stephanie, turned to their pastor, Msgr. Sam A. Sirianni, telling him that even though the wedding reception was cancelled by the venue because of the hurricane, the couple very much wanted their Church wedding. Despite the fact that the church was without light or heat, Msgr. Sirianni quickly agreed.

And, when Mrs. Santoro asked Msgr. Sirianni if it would be alright to bring in a sheet cake for a very small reception after the wedding, it set off a chain of events that soon escalated into a full-scale parish effort to give the young couple the closest thing they could to the reception of their dreams.

Walter Russell Mead, Hurricane Sandy and the Perils of Nanny State Governance

Here in New York we have a very busy government. It’s worried about the kinds of fats we eat and the size of the soft drinks we buy, and there is no shortage of regulations affecting businesses, street vendors, and individuals. But in all this exciting fine tuning, nobody seems to have bothered to think about the much greater task of keeping floodwaters out of the subway system. Admittedly, getting public support and finding the money for flood protection would be hard, but it is exactly that kind of hard job that governments are supposed to do. Leadership is getting the important things done, not looking busy on secondary tasks while the real needs of the city go quietly unmet.

William McGurn, Sandy and the Failures of Blue-Statism

The irony is that modern American liberalism has become a movement grounded less in practical politics than a sort of religious fervor—and often requiring the same strong faith in the face of disappointment and failure. The difference, of course, is that while religions often promise to deliver in the next world, government is supposed to do it in this one.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:28 AM | Permalink

Friends in the real world

Human nature doesn't change; people need other people.  Bonding with a friend is not the same as connecting on Facebook and more and more teenagers don't know how to do it. 

Mark Tapson explores the phenomenon and several new books about it in Alone, together

She relates to her friends through the network, while practically ignoring whomever she is with at the moment. She relates to the places and people she is actually with only insofar as they are suitable for transmission to others in remote locations. The most social girl in her class doesn’t really socialize in the real world at all.

In this era of easy worldwide connectedness, our youth are suffering an unprecedented degree of emotional detachment, depression and loneliness. “The more connected we become, the lonelier we are,” argues Atlantic writer Stephen Marche.
These kids have grown up barely experiencing friendship without an online component, and that element actually detracts from rather than supplements their real human interaction. “It’s hard to know how to act around people now,” says Phil Gibson, a sophomore at University of San Francisco, “because the only thing kids know is how to act on Facebook.”

A surprising percentage of teenagers are beginning to get this and want out. A study by Common Sense Media found that 43 percent of teens wished they could unplug from their technology. Nearly half of teens say they get frustrated with friends for texting, surfing the net, or checking their Facebook when they hang out together.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:14 AM | Permalink

Katrina on the Hudson

Forgotten by FEMA: Staten Island's Sandy Victims vent over lack of aid

Already without power for more than a week in the wake of Sandy, hard-hit residents of the borough's South Shore braved a winter storm Wednesday night, with many -- perhaps hundreds -- huddling in condemned homes and ignoring orders to evacuate out of fear looters would take what little Mother Nature has left them.

"FEMA packed up everything yesterday and left the area," said MaryLou Wong, whose home in the Midland Beach neighborhood was destroyed. "They haven't come back."
One group of residents, calling themselves the "Brown Cross," is patrolling the devastated streets, armed with walkie-talkies, and helping residents clear debris and pump water from their flooded homes.

“We’ve done more for our community than FEMA, the Red Cross and the National Guard combined, directly hitting houses and people in need,” Frank Recce, the 24-year-old longshoreman and Iraq Army veteran who organized the group, told
Green and yellow placards signify the home is safe to re-enter, but for homes with red placards, the city advises residents to “hire a New York State-licensed professional (Registered Architect or Professional Engineer) to file plans with the department and a hire a contractor to make the necessary repairs.

Hiring an architect was not on the immediate horizon for residents who were simply trying to survive.

11 days without power, Sandy victims want answers

On Friday LIPA reported 163,029 customers in Nassau and Suffolk Counties and the Rockaway Peninsula were still without power. That figure includes thousands who had lost power in this week's nor'easter, many of whom have had service restored. Families, the elderly and the disabled have no heat or electricity.
"It's a nightmare, and I'm just living each minute. We don't know what's gonna happen the next minute," Schwartz said.

Homeowner Richard Feldman called the recovery effort a failure. "There are tens of thousands of people out there, like me, with no home," Feldman said.

Disaster doesn't protect against the bitter cold

Brian Sotelo is a man who finally has reached his breaking point.

Anger drips from every word as he peers at the tops of white tents rising over the trees in the distance. The depth of despair in his eyes is difficult to fathom.
The Seaside Heights, N.J., resident was at a Toms River, N.J., arena with his wife and three kids a half hour before the shelter opened as superstore Sandy approached last week. On Wednesday, Sotelo was part of a contingent shifted to this makeshift tent city in a parking lot across the road from a racetrack about 30 miles north.

"Sitting there last night you could see your breath," Sotelo said. Outside temperatures hovered below freezing, in the upper 20s and low 30s. "At (the arena) the Red Cross made an announcement that they were sending us to permanent structures up here that had just been redone, that had washing machines and hot showers and steady electric, and they sent us to tent city. We got (expletive).
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:13 AM | Permalink