It’s been almost a full week since Hurricane Sandy tore through the northeast, causing an unfathomable amount of destruction in its wake. New York's often forgotten borough, Staten Island, suffered the city's worst damage and, so far, has accounted for nearly half of all the deaths in New York City. It’s where we heard the incredibly sad story of two young boys, ages 2 and 4, who were swept from their mother’s arms by the swirling sea on Monday night. Days later, their lifeless bodies were found in a Staten Island marsh.
Time has an article called Surviving Hurricane Sandy: The Island That New York City Forgot that gives us an honest look into how the locals are suffering. As it says, “Many residents live just off the water. And as you travel along south, the evidence of destruction just grows and grows. Piles of furniture and garbage are stacked in front of countless homes. Many residents in the town of South Beach off Father Capodanno Boulevard can't go back into their houses until they see a yellow sticker from the Building Department on their door letting them know the building is safe. Many are clearly unsafe – in fact, uninhabitable and stickered in red to indicate they have been condemned. The area is pockmarked with collapsed homes.”
Longtime friend and photographer Navid Baraty visited the island yesterday and came back with these shocking images. The first photo in this post shows a young boy cloaked in a red hoodie, donning a face mask and a police helmet. Though we cannot see the expression on his face, and can barely make out his eyes, we feel an overwhelming amount of sadness for what he must currently be enduring.
Also included are near unbelievable images of downed trees tangled with power lines, houses completely uprooted from their foundation and picture after picture of full-sized cars lifted up and slammed into walls or houses. Most heart-wrenching of all is a hand-written sign that reads “We Need” across the top and lists items like garbage bags and instant heat packets below.
Now in Baraty’s own words, here how he describes the scene:
“It was heartbreaking to see all of the devastation. It’s so much worse to witness in person than what you see in photographs or on the news. Friends and families were going through the wreckage, throwing out everything that had been contaminated with floodwater.
“The residents on Staten Island feel like they’ve been alone and that they are just now, a week later, beginning to see any sort of presence from the Red Cross and FEMA. They feel frustrated and forgotten, but are so appreciative at the overwhelming support from the community volunteers. I was there for about six hours, and I saw one Red Cross truck the whole time and no one from FEMA.
“It was really uplifting and encouraging to see so many volunteers of all ages helping out. People were bringing around blankets, food and water to those in need (I was asked at least 5 times if I needed anything). Makeshift donation centers were being set up in garages and random buildings all around the area. There were a couple of main donation points where truckloads and busloads of goods were being delivered. People were grilling free food for anyone who needed it on street corners.
“Thousands have people have been left homeless as a result of Sandy, and midweek temperatures in the area are expected to fall near freezing. Help is needed more than ever.”
Keep up with Baraty’s coverage of Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath by following him on Twitter.