Forgotten by FEMA: Volunteers step up in storm-ravaged NYC borough


Volunteers and disaster victims have taken rescue, recovery and security into their own hands on New York’s storm-ravaged borough of Staten Island, where they say FEMA has forgotten them.

Already without power for more than a week in the wake of superstorm Sandy, hard-hit residents of the borough’s South Shore braved a nor’easter Wednesday night, 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.”

Punch-drunk residents’ ire is also aimed at the city — which is going door-to-door to order people out of their homes — at the American Red Cross, which some say has not done enough and at police and firefighters. 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. The group started with a dozen men, and has swollen to more than 100.

“We’re basically giving the people of the neighborhood organization,” Frank Recce, the 24-year-old longshoreman and Iraq Army veteran who organized the group, told “We were able to hit more than 200 houses by Monday. We’ve done more for our community than FEMA, the Red Cross and the National Guard combined, directly hitting houses and people in need.”

Last week, when President Obama toured the New Jersey and New York coastal areas hit hard by Sandy, he vowed to get help to the victims quickly.

“No bureaucracy. No red tape,” Obama vowed.

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said the agency is helping, and urged people to go to or call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).

“FEMA is part of a big team on the response and recovery to Sandy, and we continue to closely coordinate with our partners in and outside of government,” Fugate said.

But it didn’t sit right with many that FEMA, citing the weather, closed temporary shelters as the nor’easter bore down on the borough — just when people needed them most. The agency was to open a pair of mobile disaster recovery centers at noon, after opening two earlier on Thursday. They had been closed Tuesday at 6 p.m. due to safety concerns in advance of the nor’easter that hit the borough on Wednesday, said John Knowles, a FEMA spokesman.

As of Thursday morning, more than 4,000 people were without power on Staten Island. Hundreds were staying in temporary shelters, where many complained they were treated like prisoners — given curfews and rationed food. Many more — likely hundreds — chose to ride out the nor’easter in homes deemed unsafe out of fear that looters could strike and take whatever they have left.


Fox News has the full article

You may also like...