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America After Sandy

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Sandy Victims in Staten Island Get Help from Near and Far

November 6th 2012

Staten Island community

One of the places hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy last week was the New York City borough of Staten Island, where hundreds of homes were devastated when sea water flowed into low-lying neighborhoods near the shoreline.  But help is flowing in from near and far. Along Staten Island's oceanfront, for several blocks in from the shoreline there are piles of trash mounting in front of homes and businesses devastated by flood waters.

Workers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, known as FEMA, are providing displaced people with temporary shelter and explaining procedures for filing claims. State and local officials are also providing assistance. Government help is arriving, but many victims are being aided by neighbors, friends, and family.

People who lost homes can find a free meal at this food truck normally operated in Manhattan by hometown entrepreneur Dominic Tesoriero. "I am a native Staten Islander and I definitely felt a need to reach out to the community here," he said. Most people on Staten Island did not suffer devastation and they are donating tons of food, clothing and other items to the people who did. Sixteen-year-old Corey Rettle and his soccer club friends collected donations. "It hurts. My stomach is in a knot thinking about it. All my friends' houses got ruined and stuff," he said.

Help is also pouring in from other parts of New York and nearby states. That is a welcome sight for people like Damon Rosario, a local artist whose ground-level apartment filled with water when the storm struck. "This is the first water line, you can see it comes up to my neck and goes all the way down," he said.

Rosario lost all of his furniture, appliances, clothes and precious mementos, including some family photos and childhood art work. "All my early stuff from when I was growing up, my first experiences in art, the first things that I did, they are all gone, they are all gone," he said. Damon Rosario has a place to stay with relatives, and clothes to wear thanks to these women bringing him donations from a nearby church.

He says this disaster has provided both grief and inspiration. "Right now, if you look around the neighborhood you are seeing both the best and the worst of what can happen to people. You know, people are here helping and that is the best, but there are also people out there who lost every article of clothing, all their possessions, all their things and some people lost their lives," he said. Recovery for people like Damon Rosario will take many months, but the way will be eased by the charitable spirit of friends and neighbors in this close knit community.

Greg Flakus writes for the VOA News, from where this article is adapted.


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