Last in line: Waiting weeks for help in the Rockaways
The Rockaways are waiting.
Residents here are waiting for power, for hot water, for basic necessities, from cancer medicine to a warm lunch.
Two weeks after the storm, as Long Island was promised power Tuesday and Con Edison trumpeted turning lights back on nearly everywhere, 30,000 in the Queens peninsula are still in the sand-clogged dark.
The Long Island Power Authority could not provide an estimate as to when locals would receive power, saying only they should hire an electrician to fix water issues first.
The power company said that Sandy damaged electrical panels and wires, and that property owners have to hire an electrician to first repair water damage before LIPA could restore power.
Rockaways wondered why they were expected to take the first steps to get their power restored.
“They say get in touch but how are we supposed to get in touch?” said resident and retired orderly Timothy Curtin, 50, who added his phone battery kept draining. “We have 10 minutes on the cell phone.”
Meanwhile, hours are spent in lines – a 51-one-year-old woman waited at 10 a.m. yesterday for a rumored LIPA credit.
“We hear so many stories,” she said, “so we just showed up.”
Locals say the neighborhood is better – chunks of ragged boardwalk are at least in piles, and streets are mostly passable.
But wires poke out of sand, generators hum between buildings and some sift through piles of clothes dumped on the sand.
Attorney Michael McDermott, 42, has a huge shipping container in his front yard. His son Nolan, 2, played in what was grass and is now a huge sandbox.
And Anthony Darwkin, 28, waited yesterday just to charge his phone. He has met with no one from FEMA, he said, but received multiple promises about power.
“Why are we the last one?” he said. “Stop telling us within a week. Be straight. What are we, are we not humans?”
Many, including Darkwin, expressed frustration that they were getting help from local groups and had not seen many officials or much of groups like Red Cross. “What about the millions of dollars that people have been donating we’ve been hearing about on the radio?”
Dozens of people lined up this morning at a distribution center run by local churches and the Occupy movement.
At the center, Christ Church International Bishop Joseph Williams, 65, said, “I’ve been to Africa, I’ve been to Ghana. I’ve been to those places. I never thought I’d come to my own backyard and see this.”
Many streets are still filled, two weeks later, with mangled structures.
People sifted through clothes left on a sandy sidewalk, which were later taken to the Salvation Army.
The owners of Veggie Island and Rockaway Taco transformed a storefront into a giveaway center where Neanna Bodycomb, 35, left her day job managing a vintage clothing store to work 12-hour days.
Those who were able to drive to get supplies shared space with military vehicles.
“These people have no idea what to do,” said Rockaway resident and volunteer Valerie Close, 46, whose day-care business was ruined in the storm.
Dozens of people lined up at a distribution center run by local churches and the Occupy movement.