Obama’s Broken Promises to Sandy Victims

December 10, 2012

Six weeks after Sandy hit the New Jersey and New York coast, residents are still struggling and in desperate need of shelter. Many hard-hit victims are not getting help despite President Barack Obama's pledge of the full support of the federal government, and they are dealing with red tape the president said would not be tolerated.

In the Red Hook community of Brooklyn, N.Y., many residents are still living in their unheated, powerless homes in freezing temperatures. Help from the government for residents has not come.

One victim from the Midland Beach section of Staten Island is living out of his car, going from one house to another each day in search of a warm bed. Dozens of residents are living in their sewer-flooded homes without heat or power in Gerritsen Beach.

Thousands living in hotels courtesy of FEMA are about to lose their rooms. Hotel stays for victims are set to expire on Dec. 13. That would force tens of thousands into the cold, which could prove a public relations disaster for the Obama administration and FEMA.

"Some people are camping in their homes," said Kirby Desmarais, volunteer coordinator for Red Hook Volunteers, a group affiliated with the Red Hook Coalition. Desmarais did not have an exact number of those in Red Hook who are living in homes without power or heat in freezing temperatures. But she said it is "a lot."

Red Hook, located a few blocks from New York Harbor and the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, was hit hard. The harbor flooded homes and damaged residents' furnaces and basement electrical boxes. Many residences remain in the dark.

When asked how well the government is responding to the crisis, Desmarais said that it is a "hard question to answer. ... We had no help for 12 days. The Red Cross and the National Guard, they came too late to help."

According to Desmarais, other residents have stayed because they want their children to attend school and maintain some form of normalcy instead of being bussed away and having to stay in a shelter. Others remain because they are afraid their homes will be looted if they leave.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a recent radio address that his office is doing his part to help those victims of Sandy.

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