This morning I attended an emergency meeting on the situation on the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens. It was one of the hardest hit areas by Hurricane Sandy. I was astonished to learn the great need that remains. There are 11,000 homes that are still without power—and it may be months before it is restored. Without repairs, mold is infesting homes. This, along with the toxins from a two mile strip of trash, is creating a great health risk. There are reports of outbreaks of staph infections in places where plumbing was backed up by raw sewage.
There is help available, but unfortunately it is not easy to access. FEMA offers grants, but until insurance settlements and disputes are resolved (and there are many!), and after you first apply for loans for repairs, only then are you eligible for a grant. Therefore many who were living on the economic edge are taking on additional debt. Unemployment is skyrocketing because of the number of businesses that are closed. Children have been reassigned to other school districts and the commute can be up to three hours. I could go on!
It was overwhelming to hear the statistics and stories of so many people languishing. One of the questions swirling around my head was this: I wonder if they feel forgotten? While waiting in squalor and facing overwhelming circumstances, it would be easy to feel forgotten. The words of the Psalmist come to mind: “I have passed out of mind like one who is dead” (31:12).
We cannot change whether they feel forgotten. But we can help change whether they are forgotten. It would be easy to dismiss our help as insignificant in the face of such need, but if each one of us does our part, we will be able to make a difference. So do what you can, when you can, and together we will effect change. For things to do and donate, go to our How To Help page.