The U.S. Senate on Monday approved a $50.5 billion disaster aid package for victims of Superstorm Sandy, three months after the storm destroyed or damaged hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses in coastal New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
The 62-36 vote in the Democratic-controlled Senate sends the appropriation measure to President Barack Obama to be signed into law. It narrowly exceeded a 60-vote threshold needed for passage.
Al Jazeera's Cath Turner reports from New York on the storm's human toll.
Two weeks after Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc across the Northeast, and more than a week after power returned to Lower Manhattan, many public housing residents in Brooklyn’s Coney Island were still without electricity, heat and hot water. Critically for some, many high-rise buildings still lacked elevator service, leaving the elderly and disabled stranded as many as 15 stories up. Though FEMA, the Red Cross and the city government all eventually set up shop on the ground in the low-income neighborhood, the work of reaching those trapped inside was left to passionate community activists, including church leaders, tenant organizations, a group known as Occupy Sandy, and a small related group called People’s Relief.
The head of Long Island Power Authority resigned on Tuesday after a group of customers filed a class-action lawsuit accusing LIPA of being “grossly negligent” in its response to Hurricane Sandy, which left 945,000 of its customers without power. An estimated 45,000 are still without power in the area. LIPA chief Michael Hervey’s resignation comes as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the formation of a commission to investigate how prepared power companies were for the storm.
The suit, filed Tuesday in State Supreme Court in Mineola, charges LIPA and National Grid "grossly neglected vital maintenance," failed to fortify its substations, delayed replacing its outage management system, provided false information to ratepayers, and ignored a 2006 study that identified problems and could have minimized outages. The suit's named ratepayers, Jeff Mollins of Plainview and Jason Abelove of Oceanside, seek unspecified money damages and a review of LIPA operations to prevent the events from recurring, said their lawyer, Kenneth Mollins of Melville.
At a briefing Tuesday, Abelove said he spent more than $2,500 on electrical inspections required by LIPA, only to be told they were not good enough for his power to be restored.
"LIPA pulled us off the outage map. They literally wrote us off," said Abelove. His power was restored Tuesday morning after two weeks in the dark, he said.
Attorney Mollins, who is the brother of co-plaintiff Jeff Mollins, said he expects the lawsuit to be one of the "biggest class-actions ever filed," with 600,000 to 1 million possible plaintiffs. It's up to a judge to certify class-action status.
Two little boys who were literally swept out of their mother's arms during Hurricane Sandy have been found dead. And according to the sister of Glenda Moore -- the two boys mother -- as she knocked on doors in her Staten Island neighborhood pleading for help, no one would assist:
“They answered the door and said, ‘I don’t know you. I’m not going to help you,’” said the sister. “My sister’s like 5-foot-3, 130 pounds. She looks like a little girl. She’s going to come to you and you’re going to slam the door in her face and say, ‘I don’t know you, I can’t help you’?’”
According to one report, the tragedy began as Glenda Moore attempted to take her boys to higher ground during the storm:
As her Ford Explorer stalled on the Father Capodanno Boulevard in South Beach, she got out of the vehicle and freed both boys from their seat belts.
She was holding on to them, and the waves just kept coming and crashing and they were under. It went over their heads… She had them in her arms, and a wave came and swept them out of her arms. Then the wave just took the car and flipped it over. She was knocked down.
After the boys disappeared, Mrs Moore knocked on a nearby door for help but was told: 'I don't know you. I'm not going to help you.'
Mrs. Moore then tried another neighbor near her Staten Island home, but when she rang the bell they turned off the lights and refused to answer.
As the storm raged around her, the nurse took shelter in a doorstep, screaming and staring at the waters which had just snatched away her children.
Twelve hours later, at dawn when the weather calmed down, she found the strength to walk down the street and flag down a passing police car to raise the alarm.
Brandon, two, and Connor Moore, four, were discovered in a marsh only yards from where they went missing in Staten Island, New York.
Our deepest condolences to the family, and of course to all who have suffered loss during this devastating storm.