Russia delivers blankets to Sandy homeless
The aid mission was authorized by Russia’s Emergency Situations Ministry and involved the delivery of over 50 tons of supplies and aid which was accepted by the US Federal Emergency Management Agency. Hurricane Sandy which made landfall two weeks ago in the New York-New Jersey area as a highly active storm resulted in over 80 fatalities in the US alone with billions of dollars on recovery costs since still thousands are without electricity.
Aid has been coming in from the near and far, the so far being Russia. According to FEMA officials, Lynn Canton the northeast regional administrator for FEMA told the Voice of Russia just moments before a Wednesday shipment that supplies are still very much needed. Some supplies were needed more than others, especially during the cold weeks ahead.
“We are very excited about getting blankets, quite frankly. And what we are going to do is give them to our nongovernmental agencies that will give them directly to survivors at the earliest opportunity – nongovernmental agencies like the Red Cross and those that are working with survivors’ needs. So we have here AmeriCorps volunteers, some young people, the room for them is behind me, that will help us unload those blankets tonight so that we can get them out at the earliest opportunity to the survivors that are in need.”
There are still tens of thousands without power in parts of Long Island and southern Quinn’s, and southern Brooklyn. The Russian aid shipment will bring aid to those who need it. FEMA will be distributing the aid of various nongovernmental organizations, one of them being the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island. Gwen O’Shea runs the not for profit organization, she told the Voice of Russia how thankful she was for the surprise delivery.
“We are just so thrilled to have our partners from outside of the US step forward and recognize and be so supportive of how many people are impacted by the storm. So, we are so grateful for that. And we are really grateful for any type of support that we can get. We hear that there are blankets coming in. Perhaps there is some additional clothing and other supports for folks that, like I said, have really lost everything – their homes have been flooded, all their personal belongings are gone. For individuals that were out of work prior to the storm – they do not have the additional resources to purchase all the items that they’ve lost because of Hurricane Sandy.”
The blankets were said to be distributed to parts of Long Island still without power. In the meantime Canton of FEMA mentioned that the international aid is something that FEMA often deals with. After all, back in 2005 during the Hurricane Katrina the Russian Government delivered more than 60 tons of humanitarian aid into the US. During this year’s natural disaster it wasn’t any different.
“International mutual aid is something that we also participate in. So, it is not unexpected that we do have that opportunity, and certainly in a storm like this all help is great. So, I was told that they are coming in with blankets this evening. And it is my pleasure to be here to accept them and thank the Russian Government people for it.”
It’s exactly two weeks since hurricane Sandy hit the northeastern coast of the USA. New York authorities celebrated the date by allowing traffic to pass through the tunnels connecting Manhattan with neighbouring areas. Officials report that they have successfully dealt with the aftermath of the hurricane, which claimed the lives of 120 Americans. Meanwhile, our correspondent Roman Mamonov has visited places that have seen little or no help, and where there has been no electricity, gas, hot water or fresh food since the night of the storm.
Standing in the heart of New York you would barely believe that just two weeks ago the city was in a state of emergency. Instead of closed restaurants and clubs, the tumultuous life of the megalopolis with its noisy parties, crowds of tourists, Broadway shows and traffic jams is in full swing. Sometimes though, there are long lines extending several blocks still to be seen at filling stations, or in the subway you could suddenly be asked to leave the car, because the “train can’t go further due to technical reasons”. Occasional stories of friends, colleagues, and passers-by, who have only now managed to reach their jobs from Staten Island, Long Island, Coney Island and other remote coastal areas, can really bring you back to reality. These areas look like scenes from a disaster movie. Entire blocks of houses are now either in ruins or have become desolate areas of land with naked basements. And everywhere one can hear the quiet murmur of generators and see the glow of gas burners. According to the latest data, more than 20 thousand people in New York remain without power. An elderly resident of the Rockaway district said to the Voice of Russia that city authorities, insurance agents and rescuers have yet even to visit the area.
“I’m still waiting for FEMA, I’m still waiting for my landlord, my flood insurance. Give me an idea when you’re going to be here to help me out! Because I can’t start rebuilding without the money I need. I feel trapped! I haven’t done laundry in two weeks.”
Many local residents are on the verge of emotional breakdown or at least displays of colourful language that can’t be reproduced here! Over the last two weeks, the few small shops that were still able to keep working have run out of goods for which prices have rocketed. There is no petrol there, and people have to travel to neighbouring areas to buy it for themselves and their neighbours. The police have been trying to fight against both looters (quite successfully) and fraud. The roads, at least, had been cleared. Humanitarian organizations and volunteers started delivering hot food, water and warm clothes. “The Russian EMERCOM plane with a cargo of humanitarian aid has landed in New York. However, we saw no containers bearing the inscription “Russia” in shelters or clothes and food distribution centres.
But what residents cannot understand is why there is still no power. Without light there is no gas, as well", says Natalie, a Rockaway resident.
“This is Rockaway. It’s a disaster area. We’re not getting the services that we should. My homeowner’s insurance person won’t be here till November 17th . I have no heat, no hot water. FEMA? Don’t know who they are. And we’re not getting what we need here. This is a disaster area. We’re coping the best we can. Rockaway is a tight community; we’re helping each other but we’re waiting for power! And it’s been almost two weeks! When are we getting power? “
Energy produced by generators is used to heat the remaining houses and to light the streets (electric garlands are often used in the evening, giving the neighbourhood a surreal appearance). Meanwhile, working TV sets, for those that have them, are still scarce; others are tired of the promises from officials. Here is what one of the local residents told to the Voice of Russia.
“We get newspapers no more! We get bills - the mail comes, but no newspaper delivery! We have no ability whatsoever to find out what’s going on. If the neighbours didn’t come to each other to share news about the evacuation area yesterday, none of us would find out! We have no access to anything outside this block. We didn’t know who the President was yesterday. And to Americans in this country, in this neighbourhood, not just to me and my household, but to this whole neighbourhood, it’s truly unfair. We woke up and had no clue who was running the government after the natural disaster like this.”
Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York state, and the mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, have already made it clear that those guilty of the lag in power restoration and ill-prepared infrastructure maintenance will be punished. Lawsuits against several energy companies have already been filed. These companies are facing the risk of having their licenses revoked and several officials have already been fired. None of which however, helps the ordinary residents.
“We need politicians’ presence. Put on a pair of rubber boots, put on a pair of jeans and get down here and see what it’s about! Don’t just drive by or fly by! Come down here and see what it’s about! Take a look at the people, the devastation, the houses, ok? See what we have! – Nothing! We have nothing. Just get here.”
The Governor of New York has already stated that the damage from Hurricane Sandy amounted to $50 billion. Schools, buses, and the subway only begun to work normally this week and tunnels were also opened. However, what has ended up as a disaster for many people has turned into an attraction for others. Some tourists have been coming to Staten and Long Island in search of thrills and photos of the damage, which only adds to the despair of local residents.
Russian humanitarian aid has arrived in New York, which has recently suffered from the destructive super-storm Sandy. Almost 50 tons of blankets, foodstuffs, medicine and relief goods have been flown in by two Emergencies Ministry aircraft.
The cargo is due to be distributed among residents of New York and New Jersey who have suffered from the elements.
Sandy hit the US northeastern coast in late October, claiming more than 100 human lives and inflicting damage to the tune of over 50 billion dollars.
Earlier, the Russian Emergencies Ministry sent several planes with foodstuffs, medicine and tents to Cuba, which had also been battered by Sandy.
Back in 2005, Russia sent relief aid to the US in the wake of hurricane Katrina.
Russian humanitarian aid has arrived in New York, which has recently suffered from the destructive super-storm Sandy.
40 tons of blankets, foodstuffs, medicaments and relief goods have been flown in by two aircraft.
The cargo is due to be distributed among residents of New York and New Jersey who have suffered from the elements.
The damage that Sandy inflicted on the northeastern coast of the United States has run into 50 billion dollars.
More than 100 people died in the storm.
Back in 2005, Russia already sent relief aid to the US in the wake of hurricane Katrina.
Russia’s Emergency Ministry has sent a plane with humanitarian aid to New York for the people who suffered from the Sandy storm.
Two Il-76 planes with 40 tons of cargo including blankets and articles of daily necessities have taken off from the airport in Ramenskoye in the Moscow region, the ministry's official said Tuesday.
After delays caused by paperwork, two Russian flights will leave for New York on Tuesday carrying 27 tons of blankets and other household items to people who lost their homes to Hurricane Sandy.
Sandy is known to have claimed over 100 American lives, including more than 40 in the Big Apple.
The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said that the United Nations will learn lessons from what errors it made while preparing for hurricane Sandy, which paralyzed the operation of the international organization’s headquarters in New York.
According to him, the UN building basement was the worst damaged by floods, which caused the cooling system to develop malfunction, with the subsequent faulty operation of communications systems.
This proved of special concern to the delegations of the UN member-states, since many of these failed to get timely information about the operation of the UN headquarters.
According to Ban Ki-moon, this was due to the fact that the UN Secretariat had old and no longer valid email addresses of permanent missions.
The United Nations was nonoperational for six days due to the hurricane that hit New York last week.
US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul has thanked Moscow for the relief aid it sent to storm-hit New York.
“Thank you for help, Russia,” he tweeted on Monday.
Russia’s emergency agency has dispatched two IL-76 aircraft loaded with humanitarian aid to New York, devastated by hurricane Sandy. The two Il-76 cargo-jets will each carry 27 tones of blankets and other essentials.
Voice of Russia, Interfax, TASS