Three weeks after Hurricane Sandy turned much of the northeastern USA upside down, the infrastructure is beginning to return in increments. Transit lines are slowly reopening. Many people now have electricity. Heat is being restored. However, while many people have electricity this doesn’t guarantee that they have functioning heating units. Many of the heating units were destroyed in the flooding and need to be replaced immediately as winter is right around the corner.
“The absolute emergency in terms of water, food, and blankets is subsiding,” said Metro New York District Superintendent Art Alexander, “but there are still people without power, and for them, of course, it’s devastating.”
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Many of those without electricity comprise the low-income communities of the devastated coastal areas, where the 6-foot surge of water submerged entire neighborhoods. The hardest-hit communities on Long Island are Freeport, Long Beach, Island Park, East Rockaway, Oceanside, Massapequa Park and Lindenhurst. The Rockaways in Queens in addition to areas such as Far Rockaway, Rockaway Beach and Broad Channel were also devastated. In New Jersey, Jersey City, Hoboken and Newark had significant damage as well.
For those in high-rise projects, especially the elderly, living without electricity is a significant challenge. With no lights or elevator power, the mobile residents must trek dozens of flights of stairs several times a day for supplies.
“I see people from all over the nation come to help with electricity,” said Alexander, “but it seems these places are the last to get power back.”
In Far Rockaway, NY half of the homes are unlivable. The displaced are taking refuge with relatives, shelters, and in FEMA-arranged housing.
“Financial contributions are very crucial, both short- and long-term,” said George Sisler, the Work and Witness Coordinator for the U.S. and Canada who has been overseeing Nazarene Disaster Response (NDR) relief efforts.
This week, NDR has worked to establish Mosaic Church of the Nazarene in Rockville Center, NY as the main housing facility for response volunteers. The site has the capacity to house as many as 40 workers, a commercial kitchen, and, thanks to a partnership with the Wesleyan Church, a shower unit.
A significant portion of relief efforts on the Metro New York District still revolve around providing food. Through local churches, NCM and NDR continue to feed people and distribute supplies in Queens, Far Rockaway, and Staten Island. NCM funds are being used to purchase generators and ovens, along with food and essential supplies; funds are also expended to house, feed, and transport volunteers from New Jersey.
Many of the volunteers are in to address the devastating flood damage. Water – and the subsequent damp – can ruin everything from floors to furnaces to kitchen fixtures, and with mold and structural instability close behind, building cleanup is time-consuming, dangerous and costly.
Nazarene Disaster Response has been working tirelessly to muck out houses; the churches and parsonages of Metro New York District are now poised with a list of materials, ready for repair.
But with the initial emergency state beginning to subside, the extent of rebuilding needs is becoming overwhelming. More than 10,000 homes have been destroyed as a result of the hurricane and subsequent nor’easter, and FEMA has estimated that it will take 2 – 3 years to fully rebuild.
“Things are not really back to normal for anyone at this point,” said Alexander, “even for those with means like insurance. People are still walking around dazed. No one is going about their usual business.”
Want to help?
NDR is looking for long-term (one month or more) volunteers to serve as construction workers and kitchen coordinators. Volunteers can contact Rick O’Neil at email@example.com with any questions. However, all teams must register as a Work & Witness team before they can be deployed.
Nazarene Disaster Relief and Work &Witness are now moving into a long-term response phase and are requesting that all volunteer work teams please register with Nazserve at serve.nazarene.org under the “Metro New York District: Hurricane Sandy Relief” at serve.nazarene.org.
Crisis Care Kits are in high demand. These can be sent to Fawn Grove; further information is available online at www.fawngrovenazarene.org.
To donate products for Metro New York District, see the list below for the most critical needs. Product donations can be sent to:
1522 Center Ave
Far Rockaway, NY11691
For individuals or organizations that wish to send material donations:
please contact John Bowen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Products most needed now:
Canned foods of all kinds; canned meats, soups, vegetables, etc.
Non‐perishable food items; cereal, peanut butter, boxed juices etc.
Baby items: diapers of all sizes, creams, powder, wipes
Large trash bags and tall kitchen garbage bags
Cleaning supplies of all kinds; in gallon or less sizes, including bleach
New sleeping bags, blankets
New or like new coats in all sizes
You can donate online by clicking here.
Supplies and contributions are needed right away
Supplies Gathered for NCM Hurricane Sandy Relief