Sandy victims receive continued aid

Areas affected by Superstorm Sandy are still in need of assistance almost a month after the storm, including the homes of many Geneseo students.

Sophomore Andre Herring of Freeport, N.Y., said that over Thanksgiving break, a representative from the Federal Emergency Management Agency declared his house a living hazard.

“The first thing I saw when I walked through the door was construction workers,” Herring said. “All the walls were ripped out and there was mold throughout most of the house from all the water damage.”

Herring said until the insurance companies completely assess damages to houses considered to be living hazards, families can still live in the houses. When construction on these houses begins, which he said could be anywhere between late December and February, families will have to move and FEMA will provide them with some compensation.

Herring added that many local businesses along the bay side of Freeport, N.Y. were completely destroyed because of flooding.

“It’s completely devastating to see this because these places have been there for generations of families and now they’re gone,” Herring said.

According to sophomore Jon Kislin of East Rockaway, N.Y., houses in his area had flood damages from the local bay and canal, which rose about three feet in height.

“I wouldn’t call it devastation, but rather a huge setback,” Kislin said. “Sure, it’s a huge financial burden – luckily people in the area have some insurance – but it isn’t great.”

According to FEMA’s website, Sandy victims can apply for disaster assistance, which is “financial or direct assistance” to victims that live in an area that was declared a disaster area by the federal government, or “whose property has been damaged or destroyed.”

According to the website, FEMA approved over $961 million in federal aid to disaster areas along the East Coast after reviewing approximately 475,394 assistance registrations. FEMA has also set up 74 disaster recovery centers in the areas affected, including 33 in New York state.

According to Herring, local shelters and community centers are helping victims by providing food and shelter throughout Long Island, N.Y. and other areas of devastation.

Businesses in affected areas are also providing assistance. According to its website, the Mazda car dealership in Wantagh, N.Y. is offering $500 toward a new car for those whose cars were damaged during the storm.

According to Associate Dean of Leadership and Service Tom Matthews,Livingston CARES will send about 50 students to Staten Island and Red Hook, Brooklyn during the week of Jan. 7 to help repair damages from Sandy.

Trip details are in negotiation with the Jewish Community Center of Staten Island, N.Y. to provide housing and food for the students as well as an agency that will supervise the volunteer work.

“Part of the problem right now is that all these agencies and all these facilities are still in the chaos mode after the storm,” Matthews said. “Trying to get them to focus on taking a group of 50 volunteers and making sure there’s work … is a little more complicated.”

Matthews said he hopes to continue this trip over spring break in March and broaden the number of areas downstate in which students can volunteer.

“This is just the start of what probably will be a long-term initiative like we’ve done with Biloxi,” Matthews said.