The headline of this essay could be problematic. And that is because so many people feel that the impact and devastation wrought by Super Storm Sandy just nine weeks ago is not something that can or should be revisited. It is something that is still very much present and here in our midst with hundreds of families still suffering from what she has produced.
“That is one of the big problems,”said Dr. Hillel Fox, a psychologist with Ohel’s Project Hope, a program that has been developed to deal with the psychological dimension of what the storm experience has done to families, individuals and indeed entire communities. “People look around and see that their friends, many of their neighbors and co-workers have moved on past Sandy and have gotten their lives together,” Dr. Fox said. “But in all too many instances and for reasons that are often beyond their control they are unable to move on,” he said.
And Ettie Schoor of the post Sandy organization and sub-division of Achiezer, focused on housing and home repairs—Nivneh—concurs. “What took place and the effect it had both physically and emotionally on our communities is far from over,” Ms. Schoor said. In fact Schoor adds that she is surprised that the storm in fact invaded this area a long nine weeks ago. She says that her group is dealing with issues resulting from the storm to such a degree that if you said it had all taken place just last week she would not be able to dispute that.
It’s a bit more than ten weeks since Hurricane Sandy hit the south shore of Long Island with heretofore unknown and unprecedented ferocity. To Rabbi Baruch Ber Bender, the founder and director of the Achiezer organization the focus and thrust of the group he originally envisioned and created just a few years ago has changed very dramatically. He says that while no one could have anticipated the severity of the fallout from the storm, still by working around the clock—and sometimes under emergency and intensely pressurized conditions—the organization has risen to the occasion and has become a lifeline for many in this community and beyond.
Today when you walk down some streets here in the 5 Towns, Far Rockaway, in Long Beach, Belle Harbor, Oceanside and other hard hit areas of the city and Long Island it looks very much the same way that it did a week or two weeks after the storm. At night though the street lights are illuminated—which they weren’t for nearly two weeks after the storm– many of the houses on streets like Jarvis in Far Rockaway or Barnard in Woodmere are eerily dark. And it’s not just one or two isolated homes that could not get their act together on reconstruction or other needed repairs. It is the majority of these homes that were rendered unlivable by Sandy and to this day are still in poor and unlivable condition.
More in this weeks 5Towns Jewish Times.