New Yorkers affected by Sandy ask Obama to send help
Some New Yorkers living in neighborhoods decimated by Hurricane Sandy have a lot they want to tell President Barack Obama as he tours the hardest-hit parts of the city Thursday.
"Given the size and scope of the impact of so many homes, we need all the help we can get right now," said Dan Mundy, 72, a lifelong Broad Channel resident.
Visiting the city for the first time since the storm, Obama and an entourage that will likely include Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other officials will explore parts of the Rockaways, coastal Brooklyn and Staten Island, which suffered the most damage.
Even though many of the displaced residents won't get to see Obama, they said they were grateful he will see the hell they've been living in.
"The president needs to make FEMA more aware of people who have financial issues, "said Rockaway resident Miriam Gaicher, 31, who regained power in her apartment Tuesday.
Electricity is slowly returning to the peninsula but thousands are still in the dark and those who do have lights live in buildings with severe flood damage.Gaicher, a single mother, said she and her neighbors are furious with the federal government's response to Sandy. She was optimistic that the president, who will tour the area by helicopter and by food, would set things straight and cut the red tap that has held back relief efforts.
"Just knowing that he came [to see the damage] by himself, it means a lot," she said.
Donovan Richards, the chief of staff for Councilman James Sanders, the Rockaways' rep in City Hall, said residents are angry with the sluggish recovery but didn't think they'd take it out on Obama Thursday.
"They have no food, no heat and they're suffering," he said.
Richards said many Rockaway residents were enlightened by seeing Obama visit New Jersey and comfort residents there and are hoping for the same Thursday.
"We know the president is an understanding man, so we know he will help the Rockaways," Richards said.
Chuck Reichenthal, the district manager of Brooklyn's Community Board 13, which covers Coney Island, Brighton Beach and Seagate, agreed.
It may be months for the businesses on his neighborhood's iconic boardwalk to recover and homes may be destroyed, but Sandy didn't wreck the Brooklyn spirit, Reichenthal said.
He noted the tremendous support that came from volunteers, well-wishers and other voices across the nation so far and expected it to grow more when they see the president walk through Brooklyn.
"He should indicate the feds will support the areas that are devastated and the programs that will help us get back to where we are before the storm hit," he said.
Reichenthal, a lifelong Brooklynite, added that the president and the rest of the world would see his community's strong resolve and determination that helps them during the dark times.
He hopes that tenacity will inspire Obama to fastrack aid and support to the region, because it deserpately needs it as soon as possible.
Mundy, who has been volunteering his time with his Broad Channel neighbors to help displaced residents in his community, said the best gesture Obama should make would be to thank to hometown heroes.
Aside from the police, firefighters and EMT workers who work round the clock in the affected zones, Mundy said residents have put a lot of effort to saving and rebuilding their community since flooding and the community's isolated location make it difficult for aid to quickly come to homes.
"That effort that came out of there stabilized the fear and panic. It would be great to acknowledge the effort," he said.