Residents eagerly await Sandy relief


| tcullen@queenscourier.com |



Residents and the elected officials who represent them are grateful that help is finally coming to the south Queens neighborhoods ravaged by Sandy.

“Their houses are destroyed,” said Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder days after the storm. “They’ve got no food. They’ve got no shelter, they’ve got no warmth. Thus far in Broad Channel, in Howard Beach, in Hamilton Beach and all of Rockaway, [people] have received little to no services.”

The Red Cross, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Guard, along with civilian volunteers, started the relief process in the heavily damaged areas, some of which lost blocks of homes or businesses, one to two days after Sandy’s winds and rains had subsided.

Several agencies set up base at Resorts World Casino New York City in Ozone Park. The Racino itself has staffers preparing and delivering meals to survivors in Hamilton Beach and Broad Channel, said spokesperson Dylan Rubin. Some staffers, he added, were helping to pump water out of homes in Broad Channel. At press time, Rubin said the Racino staff had dropped off nearly 1,000 meals from Thursday, November 1 to Monday, November 5.

On November 5, Mitch Henry, a feeding coordinator for the Red Cross’ Deer Park, Long Island site, said he was shipping hot food supplies as far west as Brooklyn and the Bronx. A Red Cross kitchen was being readied at Fort Tilden, near the tip of the Rockaway Peninsula, but because of issues with the water available, it could not be set up until clean water was shipped in.

Rudolph S. Giuliani, chief of staff for Councilmember Eric Ulrich, said he had been in contact with FEMA and was working on getting more relief support to those devastated by the storm.

“I’m trying desperately to get them in Howard Beach and Broad Channel,” he said.

One woman, whose New Howard Beach home saw eight feet of water and whose family lost a total of six cars, told The Courier that, as of Tuesday, November 6, “we haven’t seen the Red Cross at all.”

“I’ve heard of them going door-to-door in Old Howard, but nit on our side,” she said.

Three days after the storm struck the metropolitan area, Goldfeder wondered why there had been minimal relief for people who already suffered so much loss by the storm.

“People are starving,” he said, “it is like a war zone.”

The bulk of Goldfeder’s district, with the exception of Ozone Park, was damaged by the effects of Sandy.

Elected officials and civic organizations throughout the borough have rallied for their neighbors in the south, running drives for food, clothing and necessary supplies.

For Howard Beach, power needs to be restored and stores along Cross Bay Boulevard need help to reopen as soon as possible, said State Senator Joseph Addabbo.

“We need to get those businesses up and running on Cross Bay Boulevard,” he said. “They employ many of our local people . . . they generate revenue for the city and state, and provide the services for the community.”

Addabbo said Con Ed was going through the neighborhoods in the south of his district that had been struck with power outages. Con Edison, Addabbo said, essentially had to check power boxes to ensure they did not have water damage.

Addabbo, whose Howard Beach office was severely damaged, said once recovery was completed, the process of moving forward could begin.

“At that point, people will start feeling a little better about themselves,” he said. “So I’m hoping within the next week or so we can start getting back to normal.”