Battered by storm, Staten Islanders feel forgotten
NEW YORK — Gazing at her bungalow, swept from its foundation and tossed across the street, Janice Clarkin wondered if help would ever come to this battered island off the coast of Manhattan.
“Do you see anybody here?” she asked, resignation etched on her face. “On the news, the mayor's congratulating the governor and the governor's congratulating the mayor. About what? People died.”
Staten Island was devastated beyond recognition by superstorm Sandy and suffered the highest death toll of all of New York City's boroughs, including two young brothers who were swept from their mother's arms by the swirling sea and drowned. Yet days since the waters receded, residents feel ignored and forgotten.
That sense of isolation is deeply rooted on Staten Island, a tight-knit community that has long felt cut off from the bright lights of Manhattan.
“It's always been that way. We're a forgotten little island,” said Catherine Friscia, who stood across the street from the Atlantic Ocean in front of homes filled with water and where the air smelled like garbage and rotting fish.
“Nobody pays attention to any of us over here.”
In the shadow of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, dazed survivors roamed Staten Island's sand-covered streets amid ruined bungalows sagging under the weight of water that rose to the rooftops. Their contents lay flung in the street: Mud-soaked couches, stuffed animals and mattresses formed towering piles of wreckage. Boats were tossed like toys into roadways.
Residents washed their muddy hands with bottled water and handed out sandwiches to neighbors as they sifted through the soggy wreckage of their homes, searching for anything that could be salvaged. Spray-painted on the plywood that covered the first floor of one flooded home were the words: “FEMA CALL ME.”
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano visited Staten Island on Friday, touring a shelter and a Red Cross distribution center where storm victims lined up to get food, water and clothing. A short distance away, a long line of cars snaked down the street, waiting to get to one of the few gas stations with fuel.
“We know that Staten Island took a particularly hard hit from Sandy, so we want to make sure that the right resources are brought here as quickly as possible to help this community, which is so very strong, recover even more quickly,” said Napolitano, who was joined by Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern and Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro, who a day earlier had sharply criticized what he said was the Red Cross's inadequate response in Staten Island.
Sticking together in the aftermath of the storm has kept Staten Islanders who lost everything from completely falling apart. Self-reliance is in their blood — just as the island's very geography lends itself to a feeling of isolation from the mainland: the only way to get on or off is by car, bus or ferry.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- ‘Time for bold change,’ Wolf says in outlining $30B state budget
- Railroad measure awaits House approval
- Starkey: Penguins not mortgaging future
- State’s highest court to take up legality of Wolf moratorium on death penalty
- Penguins GM Rutherford not counting on Dupuis’ return
- Trial of man accused of shooting cyclist in Allentown begins
- Spirit Airlines to add daily flights from Latrobe to Chicago O’Hare
- No tag for Worilds; Steelers cut Moore
- Lawrenceville man charged with rape, child pornography and 27 other sexual offenses
- North Huntingdon man accused of road rage altercation in Westmoreland
- Surgeon to examine Pirates’ Cumpton after experiencing elbow discomfort