Almost six weeks after Hurricane Sandy slammed into New York City, parts of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island are still reeling from the blow.
In Lower Manhattan, The New York Times reports, business leaders fear the recurrence of the slump they experienced after the September 11 terrorist attack ("Lower Manhattan Residents and Businesses Still Grapple With Recovery," by Patrick McGeehan). "Small businesses are closed or are limping along without phone service, their regular customers, and, in some cases, their employees, who were laid off just before the holidays," the Times reports. "Local leaders estimated that a few thousand small businesses had been shuttered or were operating at less than full strength since the storm and that as many as 10,000 jobs had been lost, at least temporarily."
Low-lying parts of Staten Island, perhaps the hardest-hit zone in the city, may never bounce back. After decades of dogged effort to build and hold onto homes there, many working-class residents have finally had enough. The Huffington Post reports that at community meetings, homeowners are clamoring for a FEMA buyout ("Staten Island's Hurricane Sandy Damage Sheds Light on Complicated Political Battle," by Saki Knafo and Lila Shapiro). At one community meeting, reports the HuffPo, "Several people demanded a vote: Did anyone want to stay and rebuild? Of the hundreds of people in the room, three or four raised their hands."
The long and thoughtful Huffington Post report is good reading for anyone who wants some background on the history of development along Staten Island's vulnerable shorefront, or who wants to understand the challenges the community has faced when it comes to protection from storms. The HuffPo reporters recount the compelling tale of Pedro Correa, a Staten Island homeowner whose house was swept away by the surge, and who survived along with a neighbor by jumping onto the shattered, floating fragments of another home's roof. The storm killed at least 23 people on Staten Island. From the report: "‘Should I have bought a house there, should I have built there, should have I put all that money there?' Correa wondered recently. ‘This kind of event makes you question everything you've done in life.' Like nearly all of his neighbors, Correa now wanted out."
The Atlantic's "In Focus" photo blog offers an excellent slideshow of portraits of Staten Island homeowners at the sites of their flooded or washed-away homes, photographed by Reuters photographer Mike Segar ("Hurricane Sandy: Staten Island Survivors"). And the New York Daily News has this series of aerial photos of lingering damage and ongoing recovery work ("Hurricane Sandy: The view from above one month later").
Brooklyn's Gerritsen Beach neighborhood, unlike the Staten Island shore, was outside the official flood zone. But during Sandy, Gerritsen Beach flooded anyway. Residents who want to remain face a long winter, reports local news channel New York 1. Some families whose homes were destroyed are receiving temporary shelter in mobile camper units — provided, not by FEMA, but by private charity, the web channel reports ("Gerritsen Beach Families Settle into Winterized Campers," by Michael Herzenberg).
FEMA, meanwhile, is resisting pressure from displaced Gerritsen Beach homeowners for the agency to supply trailers, according to a WABC-TV Eyewitness News report ("Gerritsen Beach residents want FEMA trailers," by Jim Hoffer. According to the agency, the area does not have space to put the trailers, and the combination of emergency rental housing assistance, along with a "Rapid Repair" program to allow residents to shelter in their own homes, is adequate to solve the temporary housing problem. But local residents disagree. "Gerritsen Beach community leaders aren't waiting on FEMA; they've put up a website seeking people willing to lend their RV's or campers to help house up to 500 displaced families," the station reports.