Update from Staten Island: Boots on the Ground, but No Answers (W/ Photos)

Note: All photos credited to Mark E. Ruquet and Josephine Cirmi.

It was a busy weekend at Midland Beach, Staten Island, N.Y.

The clean-up has begun. There is no other way to describe it other than mounds and mounds of trash piled up everywhere: bags, appliances, wood, sheetrock and memories (shown below).

FEMA, National Guard, Red Cross, friends, family and strangers are all descending upon this stricken area trying to help.

In our case, we had a church group come by on Saturday. What would have taken days or weeks of demolition and clean-up was done in hours. Despite the progress, when one turns around, there just seems to be more to go through and throw out. But there is no easy way around it.

What we are really waiting for are results.

My car is still sitting, waiting to be towed. I got a call Friday from a company in charge of the pick-up, but nothing more so far. There is a sign on the front window that it is to be taken away. I just hope the city proves to be a little more patient.

There is word of a housing crunch here in New York with so many losing their homes. We’re waiting on a decision from FEMA. Telephone lines are automated, and getting through to a live person is impossible. If we can at least get the electric, hot water and heat back on we can live in the house while the rest is repaired. And we will no longer be refugees.

After awhile, one runs up against a brick wall. We’ve done everything we can; now we have to wait for answers.

The best way to get around is on foot. Lines were still long over the weekend for fuel: from cars to people with gas containers (shown below). People are still driving, and I suspect some are out to survey the damage. One would think that with the gas situation the way it is, conservation would be the first rule of business.

Buses are running, but they closed all the bus pick-up points along Midland Ave. in this part of Midland Beach. There is a notice of where the next available bus pick-up point is, but I have no idea where that would be. Need to look into that. Traffic is a nightmare. If it’s not drivers-playing-tourist taking pictures, then we're blocked in with relief and emergency vehicles trying to pass. People who are helping out are parking where they can, making streets a little more narrow. On top of that, One Way means nothing. Drivers are going every which way they can. Then there is the issue of no traffic lights adding to the back-up.

A walk to the bank down a usually-busy commercial strip revealed an almost desolate street. A pizzeria, boutique store and the bank were open (shown below).

Chase has managed to open branches with generators where they had to, like the one I went to. A friendly teller, hot chocolate and smiles were a welcome relief.

Now there is a Nor’easter coming Wednesday and temperatures are “unseasonably cold” as the weather forecasters say. There are going to be a rough few weeks ahead.  

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