Almost three months after Hurricane Sandy tore up New York and New Jersey, the healing is still happening. While most people have moved on entirely, the storm nothing more than a distant bad memory that ruined Halloween, residents of tiny beach towns, public housing, and Staten Island — already some of the most overlooked New Yorkers — are toiling away with endless repairs. Problems range from little annoyances, like still-broken subways and bad cell-phone service, to life-altering changes, like unstoppable mold and not having a home at all.
The New York Times has the view today from seven of the hardest hit areas, offering vignettes from each that represent the scene there nearly 90 days later. In lower Manhattan, for instance, streets are again bustling and most businesses are open, but the South Ferry station could be closed for years and much of South Street Seaport is still boarded up, while phone service can be spotty.
Down in Long Beach, the Times reports, “about 40 percent of the population has not returned after Hurricane Sandy” because there’s “little to come back to. Houses inundated by the storm surge are still waterlogged and molding.” As for public housing, ten buildings in the Rockaways, Red Hook, and Coney Island are still running on generators. Residents say bugs and mice are everywhere, and basic services are even less reliable than they were before. “Sometimes you don’t have water for three days,” explained one woman, “sometimes it’s scalding hot.”
Humans aren’t helping: The New York Daily News has another report today, one of too many like it, in which a rebuilding business was robbed of more than $10,000 in materials. “There’s always going to be opportunists taking advantage of the hard-working people,” said the Rockaways proprietor. “We’re just trying to rebuild our business and then you have these people swoop in and steal from us. It’s not right.”
And those with the bank accounts to make things right are moving slowly, according to a report by WNYC. Out of all the money donated to the largest hurricane charities — including the American Red Cross, Robin Hood Foundation, Salvation Army, and city and state funds — only about 40 percent has been spent or even committed. Occupy Sandy, the storm-focused offshoot, reportedly raised more than $725,000 and has gone through just $112,000.
“Ultimately, if there are still needs on the ground, which there are, it’s fair to expect organizations with a lot of cash still sitting in the bank to step up to the plate,” said an organizer with the Disaster Accountability Project, and “hopefully with the same urgency as their Sandy fundraising appeals.” At least Congress finally did its part.