When I posted the photos I took from Roxbury, Queens one month after Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast I mentioned that I would be posting even more devastating photos later in the week. Last November when I visited Roxbury with Camille Dodero our second stop was Breezy Point, Queens. Breezy Point is a small isolated community at the far end of the Rockaways between Jamaica Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. When Sandy hit it was completely flooded. During the storm a fire broke out and because of the storm no one could get to it to put it out. 111 homes were completely destroyed and of course it received major media coverage all over the world.
A month after the storm most of the media was gone. We met people with homes still standing just feet from where their neighbors lost everything. Their homes were flooded, without power and heat and in some cases slightly melted because of the fire. These people felt so lucky to even have a home and even luckier to still be alive. We met people who were still living in their heat free homes in late November despite everything. Not to sound corny but it really was a testament to the human spirit. It was hard not to be inspired by these people, but at the same time the trip was absolutely devastating. I walked around the rubble of the 111 houses and just tried to imagine what I would do if everything I owned was gone.
Since my last post on Roxbury another tragedy has hit this country. Tornados in Oklahoma have left many people homeless and in the same predicament as the residents of Breezy Point. Before you donate to the Red Cross to help the people suffering in Oklahoma think about some things I learned while talking to people from Roxbury and Breezy Point as well as Red Cross workers themselves. The Red Cross is very limited in what they can do for people. They work with FEMA but they can only provide immediate shelter, food and blood for people. They can’t help people rebuild their lives.
Everyone I talked to in Roxbury and Breezy Point recommended donating to Habitat for Humanity. They were on the ground almost immediately helping people gut and rebuild their homes. In this time of need in Oklahoma I would imagine that Habitat would be the ideal charity to support.
I would also like to point out that their is still a lot of work to be done in New York and New Jersey months after hurricane Sandy. If you would like to know how you can help visit the Hurricane Sandy Relief Foundation.