As many of you know, I live on Staten Island, which was particularly hard hit by Hurricane Sandy. Yesterday, we delivered a van load of clothing, shoes, toiletries and tools (rakes, shovels and brooms) to Midland Beach, not far from where I grew up. I want to quickly report what I saw:
Simply put, it is hard to overstate the enormity of the devastation. Along Hylan Boulevard, a main commercial thoroughfare, mud cakes storefronts, homes and sidewalks more than a mile from the beach. On Bedford Avenue, debris from waterlogged homes is piled in front of each dwelling, some of it more than ten feet high. Refrigerators, washing machines, couches and beds, shards of sheetrock ripped from walls and ceilings. Home after home, block after block, down to Raritan Bay. Residents stand on street corners, some with their children, others with signs asking for food, water and generators for power. Lost dogs and cats roam some streets. At I.S. 2, the local Middle School where relief supplies were being collected (across from the McDonalds where I worked as a teenager), several feet of seawater still floods the basement. Again, all of this a mile or more inland from the beach.
And that's the point. In places like Brooklyn, Staten Island, the Rockaways and the Jersey Shore, there are thousands of homes that have been rendered uninhabitable, their occupants homeless. These are not beachside vacation homes, but primary residences for working class families -- many of whom have no place to go and few resources at their disposal. They are cold, they are hungry and they are wet. For many, times were tough before the hurricane hit; things must seem impossible now.
So I urge you all to do what you can to help. One charity I'm fond of is the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, named after the firefighter from my neighborhood who made an heroic run through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel on 9/11, only to die when the World Trade Center collapsed. The Siller Foundation has set up a special Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund to benefit families throughout the metropolitan area. The foundation's website is: https://www.
I realize this is an unusual post from me, but I thought it might be helpful to hear from someone who lives in one of the areas most affected by the storm and its aftermath. I appreciate your consideration, and ask you to help in any way you can.