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FEMA Bails on Staten Island – Again

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"We don’t know where they are, so there’s nothing here but us."

AFTER COMING UP A WEEK LATE AND A DOLLAR SHORT, FEMA has suddenly packed up and left Staten Island because a rain storm is coming.

Notably MIA for several days after tens of thousands of Staten Islanders were left stranded, standing knee-deep amidst the debris that used to be their houses while Mayor Bloomburg planned to hold a marathon foot race ("to give everybody something to cheer about,"), FEMA finally started showing up to the Island last week without any water to dispense.  Not knowing that there was a dangerous storm approaching, they didn't stock up ahead of time and didn't even order any bottled water until this past Friday with a Monday Nov. 5 delivery date.

And on Monday they opened three disaster relief centers scheduled to be open from 8:30 am to 8 pm, seven days a week.  "We're pulling out all the stops to make sure everyone is taken care of," said Ken Higginbotham, FEMA's Staten Island spokesman.

But this morning (Wednesday), less than two days after they set up shop, they closed down and skedaddled out of Dodge with news that a strong rainstorm is approaching the northeast states.  The Staten Island Advance reported Tuesday night

Due to the approaching nor'easter, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is temporarily suspending operations Tuesday at 6 p.m. at its three disaster recovery centers on Staten Island.

FEMA spokesman John Knowles said the agency will evaluate on Wednesday when to re-open the centers, where residents can file claims for housing assistance, repairs and temporary shelter. But the centers will definitely be closed Wednesday.

DNAinfo / Keith

A borough newspaper, DNAinfo writes today:

FEMA disaster recovery centers in Hurricane Sandy-ravaged sections of the city that were supposed to provide shelter, food and assistance to hurricane victims went MIA Wednesday morning, posting signs saying that they were closed due to the approaching storm.

The shuttering of the assistance centers, as well as city food distribution centers come even as many of those still reeling from the monster storm were not told that they had to leave the battered areas.

The move left residents of the storm-ravaged areas fuming. "The storm is coming. We don't know how hard it's going to hit us," said Jenny Cartagena, 46, who found the FEMA center in Coney Island closed Wednesday. "I need some help now."

And a set of buses which served as a pair of warming centers at the site for the past several days were missing, according to non-FEMA volunteers who continued to hand out supplies from a nearby building despite the storm.

Volunteers at a nearby donation distribution center said the buses vanished on Wednesday. A FEMA R/V also sat empty next to the recovery center.

"They didn't want to get their precious van wet," quipped a church volunteer.

DNAinfo / Lomax

Cartagena, an asthma sufferer, said she showed up to the site with her home health aide, Camilla Suriel, 49, and her son's grandfather, Nelson Otero, 72 expecting "at least water. Something, you know, help," she said.

Read the entire article HERE.

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Comments - Add Yours

  • BMorgan

    FEMA is staffed by inexperienced people who are burdended by a very large cumbersome bureaucracy, Homeland Security. The Director is a seasoned professional who came up through the ranks but there are hundreds of clueless middle managers who slow the process. The teams on the ground, many wildland firefighters and Incident Managment Teams are skilled and use to acting on their own in dangerous situations. I’m sure they are not scared of a storm and are ready to stand their ground in a risky situation along with showing leadership skills. Thats how confidence is given to the people they are tasked with helping. Abandoning them them is a very poor tactic. I feel sure the ground troops were ordered out by clueless middle managers.