More than two weeks have gone by since Hurricane Sandy blew through the Northeast and battered New York City—and while life is gradually returning to normal, there is still so much work to be done.
Trains are back up and running at virtually the same capacity before the storm, though disruptions remain. The odd-even gasoline rationing system seems to have slowed the fuel panic, as lines at area gas stations have shortened dramatically.
But Howard Beach, the Rockaways and coastal Brooklyn and Staten Island remain in shambles. Many parts still don’t have power, and certain utility companies apparently are dragging their feet. The rebuilding process has yet to begin for the scores of homes that were severely damaged or destroyed by the storm surge.
And then there’s the human toll: the thousands of residents in these areas who lack the basic essentials and are in need of great assistance not only to rebuild, but to simply live.
The response to the storm from a grassroots level has been nothing short of amazing. Groups across the city have been working virtually nonstop since Sandy’s winds died down to collect food, clothing and other essential items and ship them to the devastated regions of this city.
The people of the Big Apple have never before faced a natural disaster such as this on their own turf, and they rose to the challenge beautifully.
Government agencies have also pledged to funnel in billions of dollars in aid to the communities hardest hit by Sandy, through massive repair plans, public assistance and other services. Moreover, corporate giants have contributed millions of dollars in monetary relief as well as items such as cleaning supplies and generators.
Even with these acts of generosity and pledges of support, the communities devastated by Sandy need even more to make themselves not only whole again, but also stronger.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has asked the federal government to provide the state with $30 billion in compensation for losses sustained from what was (for now) the storm of the 21st century. With all the usual nonsense in Washington, this request had better not become just another political football to be kicked around by attention-seeking lawmakers.
Acts of charity are wonderful and are definitely being put to good use by the people in the storm zones. But acts of charity alone will not be enough to help them fully rebuild and recover from Sandy’s wrath. All parties should realize that this is a time of emergency for Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island, and they need all the help they can get to come back stronger than before.
If achieving that goal means the federal government has to provide billions in aid, then Congress and the president shouldn’t think twice about doing so. There are times when the government shouldn’t spend money, but this certainly is not one of them.
Meanwhile, Thanksgiving is only a week away, and this year’s celebration in New York City may feel subdued considering all the storm victims who may not have homes in which to celebrate. Let’s not forget their need, and let’s continue to give all that we can give to help them get back on their feet.