Getting help to the victims of Hurricane Sandy has been an evolving process, and on Staten Island, many residents said almost three weeks after the storm they needed more cleaning and laundry supplies and household appliances than basic food, water and clothing. NY1's Bree Driscoll filed the following report. |
Emilia Terekhima's New Dorp home filled with four feet of water during Hurricane Sandy.
At that time, the Staten Islander said her priority was getting the most basic needs.
"Right after the storm, of course, cleaning supplies, water, anything to eat because we had no power. Refrigerators were ruined so people had nothing to eat, basically," said Terekhima.
Now, going into the fourth week since the storm, the needs in these hard-hit neighborhoods are changing. Instead of clothing, food and water, organizers of the Staten Island relief effort now say they are bringing shovels, as well as cleaning and laundry supplies.
"As we move forward, people are going to need appliances, everyday life things that you don't realize that you don't have anymore," said a local.
"And the needs sort of changed to long-term. What are we going to do? Where do we go?" said another local.
"Right now, just trash bags, that's it. We're cleaning up, thank god," said a third. "The volunteers have been great."
Volunteers said the way they operate has changed too, becoming more streamlined and organized.
"Over here, I think it is more respecting the people and not making them feel like they're charity. It is almost like they are going into a Costco," said a volunteer.
While the needs of the victims are changing, so is the response effort. Organizers say operations will be moving from the Miller Field distribution center to the restoration center at 1976 Hylan Boulevard.
"There we have every city agency as well as FEMA there, helping to answer everyone's questions so people can get on with their lives and get back into their homes," said Heada Mihaltses, the head of the Staten Island recovery effort.
Mihaltses said the road to recovery is going to be a long one.
"There are homes that are absolutely destroyed out here on Staten Island. So we need to help these people rebuild. And that is not a two or three-month process, that is a couple months to a year," said Mihaltses.
The first step is clearing away homes that are no longer inhabitable. The Department of Buildings says it will tackle that job over the coming months.