Here we are two weeks post-Hurricane Sandy – but in many places, it looks to me like the hurricane hit just yesterday. This weekend, I visited impacted families in Lindenhurst and Long Beach, N.Y., areas hit hard by the storm. The horror of the destruction was very raw; and unfortunately, I don’t see the recovery phase progressing very fast.
The statistics themselves are staggering. In Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, 16,300 ConEdison customers are still without power. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he plans to request $30 billion in federal disaster aid in order to rebuild after the storm – a number based off an estimated $50 billion in damages. So far, 14,200 families in Staten Island have requested aid from FEMA, and not yet determined amount of homes on the island have been demolished or determined uninhabitable.
What I saw in many parts of Long Island is a toxic disaster, which could take years to clean up. There’s a sense of shock and despair easily seen in the faces of those trying to rebuild their lives. Thousands of homes need to be leveled or drastically repaired, and that kind of work is going to take a lot of time, manpower and money.
In parts of Long Island, flood waters rose as high as backyard fences, where seaweed still remains on the fence posts. The concern for a lot of these neighborhoods is that seawater has contaminated the core of these houses, especially the walls and insulation. Now, once safe homes have turned into breeding grounds for mold and mildew, which can be very dangerous for a person’s health.
From a health care perspective, a lot of new resources are going to be needed to help folks with short-term and long-term care. People with special needs will need to be attended to immediately, because they are certainly hurting at the present time. I hope that our government officials don’t forget about these communities and help these folks as soon – and as much – as possible.