Sunday, November 11, 2012


Please read this letter from a former student of mine. He has lost his home, business and two vehicles! Please consider donating to his fund at this site:

To my friends and family,

Thank you all for your well wishes and your prayers I deeply appreciate them. My friend Lisa has been good enough to post on here for me and today I'm in Rockville center for some Wifi, to post this.

So everyone understands, I'm appreciative of FEMA, the National Guard, and the Red Cross but the reality of the situation is that when this type of disaster happens the first responders, neighbors, and yourself are what will get you through. My day begins at 5:30 am when I get up and get myself, my son, and my dog ready. I power my cell phone on the car charger while we drive to get online for gas two towns away and fill up our gas cans and the car we are using. My car was submerged by the bay on Monday night.  My mother is letting me use her car after the cars at my parent’s house were miraculously left untouched. After an hour wait for gas we see if we can grab a guilty luxury of hot coffee somewhere and maybe a newspaper to see if anyone can tell us when the power could be back.

My father will be at city hall at 9am. His usual routine is to ask questions and be told to talk to FEMA officials. When he asks where they are no one knows. The FEMA volunteers are giving out water and food today by the schools but anyone with answers will be available at some point later. I sat outside Starbucks in Rockville center to get WiFi and filled out my FEMA application on their website for my home and my business both of which are ruined. The house I will clean out on Monday but it is 17 miles away and I don't want to drive out there until I know gas will be easier to obtain. The business will only be given a loan at 4% and only after I go through my insurance. My insurance broker has been unreachable for the business and when I drive to Rockville center tomorrow for cell service I will try the main company. At best they will look at my store in 2weeks and most likely a month, not sure when FEMA will or what either will do or what I will qualify for, it's mostly just about waiting when it comes to either of them. I stop by home depot to try and get a kerosene space heater but they are sold out. I'm bummed. I wanted to buy one for my grandmother and my friend who have no heat other than their gas stoves. I stop at ACE and they are out too but just got kerosene fuel in so I buy two gallons just in case I get heater later.

We drop newspapers and gas off to my parents and then meet the kids who work for me at my store to clean up the place. They are great kids. They know I can't pay them for awhile and they still show up, to say I'm thankful would be an understatement, and their parents should be proud of the kind of kids they raised. My store is ruined. The floor and roof caved in the back and the floor is sinking in the front. The water rose past any barriers and flooded out the store, destroying

all the inventory including the early inventory we brought for Christmas. The florist case is destroyed and the flowers are rotting in the case. Every plant in my greenhouse was flooded with salt water, every bag of soil, and fertilizer is ruined. We put a forklift and Gerard's motorcycle in here for protection and both appear to be dead. The front of the greenhouse was smashed when the rising water brought pallets of soils from the back of the store to front, crashing them in to the benches that then pushed in the front wall of the greenhouse. The heating systems were destroyed and the pickup was flooded as well. Today we will work cleaning out the store till 3. I speak to my friend who owns the repair shop across the street. He asks me if he could buy some fire wood but I refuse his money and tell him to take what he needs. He lost everything in his shop. All his tools and equipment are gone. He got in touch with his insurance broker who told him he is covered for hazard but not flood. He doesn't want a loan to get back in business so he will take his own savings to reopen. He is a good man and I'm sorry for him. We had some people come in to buy firewood even after I warned them it needed days to dry out from the salt water and wet sand covering it. They didn't care. It broke my heart to turn one guy away when he didn't have cash, but there is no power for credit and we are down to three chords of wood. If I knew I could get more wood I would have given it to him but I can't get a hold of my wood guy. We finish cleaning and as we head out, I thank everyone.

While there is still light out I walk Nula through the town. The pictures I saw in the paper don't do it justice and they don’t describe the smell of oil and gasoline that had been everywhere. There is a 12' section of the boardwalk on top of a red Nissan a half of a mile from where the boardwalk used to be. It’s quiet too, with just the sounds of generators or clean-up crews breaking the silence, but the liveliness that was this town is gone. The bull dozers have been pushing the beach out of the streets round the clock for two days now and the west end of long beach is obliterated. All the apartment buildings have been vacated except for the supers who are pumping water out. I bump into my uncle who is back from the rockaways and tells me they are worse. His neighbor’s house in belle harbor is missing the front. He tells me the Hess in Island Park opened one pump an hour ago and the gas line is 2miles long already. He told me state troopers are there to keep it in order. My beautiful beachside town I grew up in and love has its sidewalks lined with the contents of people's homes, all just ruined. There are so many abandoned cars that they have been slapped with stickers so the tow companies know which to get later. I walk by my friend Carlos's clothing store. It's boarded up but I already know he must have lost everything there. I remember reading that Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen are doing a benefit concert for the devastated areas. I think it's kinda funny that they think they will help anyone when they really need it. If they didn't do the concert and sent some generators here that might be of help, but I'm not a fan of either so I'm just a little jaded. I have to get home before curfew starts. The National Guard will arrest anyone on the street after 7pm.  5 days of this and I'm exhausted, I just have to hold out till it’s back to normal.

I would like to say I talk to my parents but I'm so mentally tired I just nod a lot and tell them I don't know. I try not to speak because I want to keep level headed and focus on what I can do. When I think of what I can't control I start to lose it. I tell my parents LIPA might have the power on by November 10 or 11th by what the paper said but I don't think we will have before Thanksgiving because of a nor'easter that might hit next Wednesday. They say we might have water by Monday or Tuesday and we shouldn't use the tap to even wash. My son brings firewood in and I am thankful for him. He has been my right arm since he moved in with me and I try to keep strong for him. I don't know where we will live when the power comes back. The house I have I had just rented out was destroyed, and the apartment that I was renting most likely will be condemned. The foundation shifted in the flood and until they get a structural engineer they can't pump the water out of the basement for fear it might collapse. Apartments will be hard to find because there won't be that many livable ones available and most of my savings will be used up just living without any income coming in from my store. I spend my night watching my son play with my nephew. My nephew runs through the house laughing the way only toddlers can. It has become my greatest joy watching them and spending time with my parents, my sisters and my nephew. God can show you how important the little things you take for granted are. I try not to let everything else worry me and just dwell on these things, letting them become my most important memories. I thank the Lord that so far everyone I know is ok. I thank him that my parent’s home was ok and they have heat and room for my son and I. I am fortunate compared to most. I hope I can find some heaters for my grandmother and my friend. It’s going to be chilly at night now and they could get sick. I know my uncles will take care of my grandmother but they are in the Rockaways and if thats worse then here then I have to help them. We might get assistance by the end of the month but I can't think that far ahead. I just need to get through tonight and get ready for tomorrow, where I will get up at 5:30am and start over again. Keep us in your prayers and if you choose to help someone find out what they need and fed ex/ups it. They will get it from you before any government assistance will get there, and it will go directly to them. I love you all, God Bless you.

Sean Newman Long Beach, NY

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