Almost half of the deaths from Hurricane Sandy have occurred in Staten Island, where bodies are still being recovered days after the storm, and a lot of help is still needed. Below, read a dispatch from photographer Jessica Lehrman, who travelled out there yesterday to witness the devastation firsthand. And for information on how to volunteer or donate to relief efforts on Staten Island, check out this website.
We briefly stopped into a few streets south of Hylan a bit west of New Dorp, then we spent the remainder of our time in the New Dorp area which was completely devastated. Many homes close to the beach unlivable, standing water still there. Water still in basements and blocking the streets. People were told FEMA was coming yesterday morning and they never showed up. The only help we saw in the worst areas was from a local church who said they had started with 3 bags of clothes that morning and by the evening had taken over 3 street corners with water, food, and clothes, including a prayer station. We did see the national guard handing out supplies but that was much closer inland.
Everyone we met said they felt Staten Island had been forgotten, that they were alone and had no help and had no idea what was next. Many didnt have flood insurance. People who had lived in their homes for 15 plus years are now homeless. One man said that his home was almost robbed the night before by looters, but a neighbor saved it while he wasn't able to stay there due to the water still in the house. Everyone wanted to tell us their story—we were brought into homes, shown the water damage all the way up past our heads, the family photos lying destroyed on broken kitchen tables. The people we met were incredible. Families banding together to start over. It's sad that sometimes it takes hardship to bring together a neighborhood, but because of the absolute lack of help in the areas we went to, they are definitely doing their best to help one another through these hard times. But, yes, they NEED help from organizations a bit bigger than the 13 year old kid next door.