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Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts: Latest Updates, FEMA, Gas Rationing, and NYC Power Outage

When Hurricane Sandy was showing her full wrath, the political spin machine was cranking away and causing a distraction to the actual relief efforts and what mattered most – getting help to the citizens hardest hit.

After Governor Christie showed honest appreciation toward the President for expediting an emergency declaration and helping to line up FEMA, the spin monsters were in rare form. Incredibly, many used it as a last minute push for votes. The left tried to frame Christie’s appreciation as an endorsement for Obama, and the right attempted to pull the disaster into the election as well.

During a Fox News interview, Christie was asked if he was expecting Romney to tour the area. In amazement of the question, Christie put the Fox News anchor in his place by stating, “I have no idea nor am I the least bit concerned or interested. I’ve got a job to do here in New Jersey that’s much bigger than presidential politics. And I could care less about any of that stuff. I have a job to do. I’ve got 2.4 million people without power. I’ve got devastation on the shore. I’ve got floods in the northern part of the state. If you think right now I give a damn about presidential politics than you don’t know me.” The interview then continued with honest appreciation for Obama’s help in getting a national declaration expedited so Christie could start getting help in sooner.

So, what is happening now?

For starters, line trucks from power companies across the country are on their way to help get the power back up. Some are traveling from as far as the Midwestern states that were hit by flooding last year. For many, it is a three-day drive and they should be in the NY/NJ area in a day or two. Their expected length of stay is at least two weeks.

Next, FEMA fuel trucks have already arrived in New York and are giving away gas to those who need it. As New Jersey waits for their fuel trucks to arrive, Governor Christie has ordered mandatory gas rationing. In addition to the FEMA fuel help, the Red Cross has activated thousands of volunteers from across the country who are on their way to provide assistance.

While Staten Island residents waited, they set-up their own outdoor donation center for people to donate food, clothing, baby needs, etc. Rep. Michael Grimm (R) just announced that a warehouse has been secured to store and distribute donated goods. 

Emergency aid organizations are now on the ground providing the basics and trying to line up emergency temporary housing. In New York alone, over 25,000 blankets to fight the cold have been distributed so far.

Now that the citizens of NYC forced common sense into their mayor, the marathon generators can be put to use to power homes, and FEMA is preparing vouchers to hotels, motels, etc., to get evacuees out of emergency shelters and into temporary living quarters.

While the crisis was happening, along with the current recovery process that was occurring, people all over the nation worried, and continue to worry, about family, friends, and co-workers who live in the area. Some discovered their loved ones had died, while others are still waiting for news.

At my own job, conference calls were difficult because I was missing critical team members and I had no idea if they were in a safe place. After the storm passed, one by one they were able to reach out via a smart phone to let us know they were ok. Some were waiting for power, but found a place to plug in, while others were staying with friends and relatives who were not hit. They are safe and the company is in emergency response for the offices affected.

There are a lot of moving pieces that still need to be put together and a lot of small business are completely wiped out, along with the jobs that they provided. Thousands are homeless. 

Some things went right. Some things went wrong. For now, let’s try to keep the focus on what matters most, helping the residents of New York and New Jersey find temporary housing, then quasi-permanent housing, and get back on their feet. To find out how you can help, please visit redcross.org.

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