Coastal areas in outer boroughs still suffer from storm
Manhattan might be inching toward normalcy, but outer borough areas that were hardest-hit by Hurricane Sandy are still ravaged. Tens of thousands of residents didn't have power, heat or significant aid as of last night in parts of Staten Island, southern Brooklyn, the Rockaways and Howard Beach.
With reports of looting and crime rising, elected officials in the neighborhoods are pleading for help to come as soon as possible.
"You're going to have people who are hungry and getting impatient," said Donovan Richards, chief of staff for City Councilman James Sanders. (D-Rockaway) Staten Island
State Sen. Diane Savino said things have gotten better for the borough but many areas including New Dorp and Midland Beach are virtually unsalvageable. Homes were uprooted from their foundations, storm flooding removed cars yards away from their parked spaces and complete blocks were turned into makeshift campsites as residents wait for power and heat.
"They never will recover from this. The landscape of Staten Island has been forever transformed," she said.
The borough also took the brunt of the city's casualties from the storm, with half of the 40 reported deaths.
Aside from the property damage and deaths, Savino said the most devastating loss was the personal items residents had to throw out because of flooding.
While insurance and government relief can replace homes, nothing could replace mementos.
"You see their entire lives that are now on the curb," she said.
Neighborhoods such as Howard Beach, Broad Channel and St. Albans were hit with major flooding even though many were not evacuation zones.
Rose Faggiano, 85, was killed in her Howard Beach home when waters flooded her home. The gas shortage has made matters worse for the residents since A train station is out of commission and many streets are impassable because of to downed tree limbs.
Social media sites exploded with frustrated residents who still remain in the dark and cold.
"Just drove through Howard Beach. not pretty. No lights, piles of trash, traffic, debris, boats on the divider in the middle of the road," Twitter user @psmallphotos tweeted.
Savino, who represents parts of Brooklyn, said the borough's coast wasn't damaged as bad as Staten Island's, but their loss was no less significant.
Although power was slowly coming back to the neighborhood, flooding was still prevalent yesterday. The senator said she was most crushed that the beach's iconic staples including parts of its boardwalk and restaurants are gone.
She added that much of the development that has gone into the beach and amusement parks over the last decade was wiped out. "There's hundreds of thousands of investment that has been ruined," she said.
Elected officials said they are very concerned that the neighborhood could turn dangerous if electricity isn't restored to the 19,000 affected ConEd customers as soon as possible.
Richards, who is running to replace Sanders in an upcoming special election, said that the lack of power coupled with the fact that the closest FEMA disaster center is 89 blocks away in Breezy Point is unnerving.
Breezy might never recover fully after more that homes burned turn the ground.
During a news conference, Mayor Michael Bloomberg reassured residents that the city was doing the best it could under the circumstances.
The governor, meanwhile, yesterday waived tolls on both Rockaway bridges.
But Richards said residents aren't seeing results.
"The Rockaways are being treated like 9th Ward," he said.
Richards said there have been many cases of push in robberies and looting but there weren't enough cops to handle the situation.
He warned that if relief efforts don't speed up, the peninsula would "descend into anarchy."
Savino had a different outlook, noting that outer borough New Yorkers have gone through hardships big and small, but their spirit never faltered.
"This is a place they want to live. They could have gone anywhere else, but they don't want to," she said.