Two weeks of being cooped up with Tess (or as I like to refer to her now, Princess Pain-in-the-Ass) and her late husband's mother (who fled Brick, New Jersey before she lost power and heat in the storm, and has been here right up until yesterday), in addition to a lack of cigarette smoke, have made me irritable. The stupid-but-entirely-necessary upkeep of this old house, badly neglected by Tess and her late husband as they are/were both near-invalids, is eating up my time as I meet with general contractors, chimney and fireplace guys, concrete companies, roofers and electricians.
There's much to do in the way of stuff that falls under the category of routine maintenance that simply wasn't done, which has now become necessary after the storm, and is now piling up. If I have to talk to one more Italian with a tape measure or a pencil jammed behind his ear, I might have to go on a killing spree.
All things considered, the fact that we even HAVE a house is a big thing around here. We're extremely fortunate to still have a roof, and floors, and bathrooms. There are many people here on Staten island who don't have any of those things, and there are still more who have had their houses condemned by the City due to storm damage, but have no choice but to continue to live in them, in the dark, the damp, and the mold and sludge.
And they have been abandoned, at least by the City, State and Federal Governments. This past week, when a nor'easter threatened to dump more water on us, FEMA simply up and walked away, apparently because they didn't want to get 'stuck' in the storm! That nor'easter left about 4-6 inches of snow on the ground, and temperatures plummeted that night.
The Red Cross has -- finally -- gotten here, but so far as I know, it's operations are limited to driving mobile food trucks about, using loudspeakers to wake up entire neighborhoods to tell them there's water and sandwiches as they drive down darkened streets.
The power is still out in some places. One campus of Staten Island University Hospital is still recovering from the flood. The gas lines have shortened, and odd-even rationing is in effect, and no sooner did the gasoline shortage sort itself out then in true Staten Island fashion every asshole and his mother took to the roads.
Seen on Staten Island: At the Hess station at Hylan Blvd. and New Dorp Lane last week. Six men of no particular-non-pork-eating-sometimes-exploding religious persuasion are lined up at the pumps with several jerry cans each. They are all given their $40 gasoline ration, which they then attempt to sell to the people waiting in their cars on the enormous line at $10/gallon. The cops say and do nothing, because, let's face it: who the hell wants to confront a Muslim carrying 20 gallons of flammable material?
Seen On Staten Island, Part Two: Yesterday, local restaurants showed up at New Dorp Beach to set up a field kitchen. Several local favorites and a few of the chain restaurants were out there feeding the displaced, the emergency workers, and the first responders working to clear the area of rubble and recover whatever they might. In addition, other stores and charities were handing out blankets, coats, toys for the children, candy,.bottled water and medical supplies, batteries, candles, you name it. All well-and-fine, and it's good to see neighbors helping neighbors.
Until you notice the sudden population explosion in New Dorp Beach, and it's composed, mainly, of people who can't afford to live there, and thus, can hardly be victims of Hurricane Sandy.
I never knew so many black people owned beachfront property in New Dorp Beach and Cedar Grove. One wonders: just when did all these Guatemalans and Salvadorans arrive by the hundreds in the neighborhood?
And then you figure it out: stuff is being given away...for free...and no one is either asking for proof of need, or, wants to be accused of racism for refusing to give out the goodies.
Entire families descended upon New Dorp Beach from the usually-minority neighborhoods (most of which survived the storms unscathed), some with (stolen) shopping carts to get them some of that 'free' relief shit that has been paid for by the taxpayer or by charitable donations. The absolutely most-disgusting scene was played out yesterday on Miller Field, where hundreds of illegal immigrants came out, took all the free food and water, and the toys for the children, and proceeded to hold a fiesta with the backdrop of a destroyed neighborhood and thousands of shattered lives looming over the entire thing.
Hey, NYPD: I know the mayor would rather you did something more useful, like escort asswipe politicians around the destroyed and flooded streets so they can have their pictures taken, but how about you at least show up to at least make the would-be cheaters think twice about pulling this scam?
Hey, I.C.E: if you need to find a sizable portion of the 12-16 million illegal immigrants that you normally can't find because apparently construction sites and hotels are few and far between, just stake out another one of these low-hanging-fruit venues and round 'em up by the hundreds. Oh, right, even though Manet Napolitano visited new York City, it apparently was only to get her face in the news, not ensure her agency is actually doing it's job. How silly of me to think otherwise!
Rumor has it that some residents of these storm-ravaged areas are thinking of arming themselves to prevent the looters, the vultures and the moochers from making a re-appearance. Someone is gonna get hurt for the sake of either not giving offense to someone, or because the desire to avoid racial trouble leads to people in dire need taking the law into their own hands. Some of these people are truly desperate.
Staten Island's Most Popular Meme: Comparing the response and media coverage of Hurricane Sandy to that of Hurricane Katrina, most come to the conclusion that because they are mostly white, working class, and Catholic, no one actually cares about them. The usual complaint is that if they were poor, black, and there was a republican in the White House, the press would be screaming on a daily basis for the Government to "do something".
Since people around here have already figured out that government at all levels won't be doing much of anything (because that would cost money that is better spent on welfare and jails), they are starting to do for themselves. It has become common for neighborhoods to create ad-hoc work gangs and set up community resource pools of food, water and whatnot. FEMA may not be here, but the community is doing the job by themselves, because they apparently have to.