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article imageOp-Ed: Gerritsen Beach residents ask for winterized FEMA trailers

By Anne Sewell     Jan 4, 2013 in World
New York - A petition is being addressed to Governor Cuomo, Mayor Bloomberg and FEMA Coordinator Mike Byrne, asking them to please send unused and winterized trailers to the residents of Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn, who are still homeless from Hurricane Sandy.
Residents are asking for 100 unused FEMA trailers, that are just sitting in Pennsylvania and other areas, to be brought to Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn and other areas that have been badly affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Already a couple of months down the line, residents are still urgently in need of temporary housing, to give them a chance to repair their homes, get their children to and from school, and still hold on to their employment. Many have also lost their cars in the storm.
Other residents in the area have volunteered to allow these trailers to be placed on their private property, or on land in local Marinas. There is plenty of space.
As time goes by the situation is getting worse for the residents of Gerritsen Beach, who have no funds to repair the severe damage caused by the hurricane. They are just not getting enough help and support from the governor, Mayor Bloomberg or from FEMA.
At present, families with children, seniors and people with disabilities are homeless, cold, sick and becoming increasingly distressed. While they say they are lucky that severe freezing weather has not yet hit, they feel that their time is running out and the below-freezing temperatures could hit them soon.
Residents are urging Governor Cuomo, Mayor Bloomberg and FEMA Coordinator Mike Byrne to please change their policy, and bring in the winterized trailers to Gerritsen Beach and the surrounding areas before it is too late.
Michael Taylor, Chairman of the Board of Gerritsen Beach Cares, Inc., says:
The community of Gerritsen Beach and surrounding area is in desperate need of help. We have paid our fair share in tax dollars over the years. I would never think this would happen in the USA since our government sends in our great military to provide humanitarian aid in times of crisis - to sets up towns, create shelters, provide medical assistance, food and needed essentials to the victims of disaster. However, our Gerritsen Beach residents have been left in the dark, are cold and are now trying to cope with the realities of having to rebuild their entire home while living with mold.
Our community is at risk and the lives of our family, friends and neighbors are at stake unless there is a HUGE, TIMELY response put forth from our government and other American citizens.
Please Help Us Save These Hardworking Citizens of the United States of America!
We need your help NOW! We cannot wait any longer! These trailers can make a huge difference in the lives of so many - please help bring them to Gerritsen Beach and New York.
One of the residents, Anthony Avena, his wife and three children managed to escape the flood waters but their home is badly damaged. In a video interview on NY1's website, he says it was like "living in an action movie". He also says it's going to be some time before they can move back into their home.
"I'm gonna say a minimum of six months," Avena said. "I don't have any money to do this stuff -- it's unfathomable"
The family is now staying in one room of a neighbor's house, across the street.
While they are grateful for the accommodation, Avena says, "Seeing my wife upset, seeing my children upset, that's what kills me that's what I can't handle."
What made it harder to handle was learning about the 100 winterized trailers that FEMA has sitting in a Pennsylvania lot, less than three hours away.
"I don't understand what they're doing," Avena said. "A trailer would just give us something that we feel like we're okay, like we're normal."
However, FEMA and the Mayor of New York come up with the excuse of codes, how it is not possible to place trailers in flood areas, and that there is no space. However, residents say that there is plenty of space.
Anyone wishing to assist Gerritsen Beach and other nearby residents can sign the petition on here.
In the meantime, as can be seen in the video above, have been active in helping the people of Gerritsen Beach by teaming up with "The North Face" and "Gerritsen Beach Cares" to distribute warm clothes to hundreds of families living in Gerritsen Beach, that have lost just about everything after Hurricane Sandy.
Another article on the subject:
FEMA has up to 1000 trailers — why not give to Sandy victims?
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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