Israelis Stunned by Lack of Help for Sandy Victims

Volunteers Find Little Official Presence in Flood-Ravaged Nabes

****: Israeli volunteers Oriya Barkai, Snani Mymon, and Elya Tzur survey damage in Sea Gate, Brooklyn. They expected to find more government help in Sandy-ravaged sections of New York’s waterfront.
courtesy of ein prat
****: Israeli volunteers Oriya Barkai, Snani Mymon, and Elya Tzur survey damage in Sea Gate, Brooklyn. They expected to find more government help in Sandy-ravaged sections of New York’s waterfront.

By Seth Berkman

Published November 15, 2012, issue of November 23, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 3)

Even before watching reports from Israel, Mann could see that New York needed help, noting, “There were transportation difficulties, miscommunication between relief efforts and needs.” He quickly realized that the situation was direr than emergency planners originally expected. Later, when he arrived in Far Rockaway, he did not see FEMA workers. In Sea Gate, he saw only local police and some Verizon workers on the ground.

When Ein Prat was in Coney Island, cleaning up stores along the boardwalk, Mann said he did see FEMA and Red Cross workers in the neighborhood. But local residents reported very little help from those organizations. Chabad Rabbi David Okunuv, who leads the Warbasse Jewish Heritage Congregation in Coney Island, said he did not see workers from either agency at the Amalgamated Warbasse Houses. Okunuv said he heard rumors that the National Guard was supposed to help as well, but could not confirm their presence.

Ruth Lichtman, an 89-year-old Warbasse resident who walked down 16 flights of stairs to escape her apartment after the storm cut her building’s electricity, has stayed at a friend’s apartment across the street at the Trump Village Apartments. Lichtman said National Guard members knocked on her friend’s door five days after the storm. “We asked for blankets and food, but no one ever came back,” she said.

Warbasse resident Anya Klozner, whose family also lives Warbasse, wrote in an email that she spoke with security guards who had specifically “asked Bloomberg and Cuomo for FEMA, Red Cross and National Guard assistance but NOTHING ever came.”

Their experiences were not unique. New York Times columnist Joe Nocera reported visiting Belle Harbor, one of the most devastated Rockaway communities, on November 9 — 11 days after the storm hit. “To the extent that there was a government presence, it consisted mainly of a Medicare truck parked outside,” he wrote. Team Rubicon, a volunteer disaster relief group made up of U.S. military veterans, had parachuted into the breach and begun organizing other volunteers in the relief effort.

FEMA did not return several phone calls seeking comment.

Anne Marie Borrego, director of media relations at the American Red Cross, said mobile units have been canvassing numerous neighborhoods in New York, including those with large Jewish communities. The Red Cross’s online disaster newsroom has been listing the locations where units will be stationed daily.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • Despite the escalating violence in Israel, more and more Jews are leaving their homes in Alaska to make aliyah: http://jd.fo/g4SIa
  • The Workmen's Circle is hosting New York’s first Jewish street fair on Sunday. Bring on the nouveau deli!
  • Novelist Sayed Kashua finds it hard to write about the heartbreak of Gaza from the plush confines of Debra Winger's Manhattan pad. Tough to argue with that, whichever side of the conflict you are on.
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.