Hurricane Sandy left some visible damage. The fires that burned in Breezy, and Belle Harbor, and Rockaway Park. But far, far more of the damage is internal. It is the difference between seeing the obviously bloody nose, and the internal hemorrhaging of a kidney punch. The Rockaways is suffering internal damage. The street lights are on. The shops are open. But you go inside the homes, you go into the basements of the shops, and that's where you'll still find the damage. -- Peter Corless, Rockaways
Dear Eric and John,
I know you're "sleep deprived" and exhausted from your grueling schedule trying to bring President Obama to his knees... and the rest of America along with him... which is probably why you didn't get around to voting on the "Senate-passed $60.4 billion superstorm Sandy disaster relief package"... as promised.
So I'd like to take this opportunity to introduce myself and tell you a couple of things you might have missed while watching the story of the aftermath and devastation of Hurricane Sandy on TV. Oh, I'm sorry, I forgot, it's not on TV anymore, which is probably why you thought it was over. I'm hoping it's not because you are soulless heartless heathens, or in the words of Dr. Hunter S Thompson in describing Congress...
"...a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs."
No, wait a minute, that's the music business.
My name is Sandi, like the hurricane... I'm a filmmaker telling the stories of the victims and volunteers of Hurricane Sandy for the past 66 days. Coincidentally, there are thousands of people without power or heat out there for... wait for it... 66 days!!!! Oh, and did I mention it's 22 degrees out?
Now there's pink mold and black mold, pretty much any color mold you'd fancy out there, and it didn't go away by dousing with Clorox as they suggested, as a matter of fact, it actually made it worse!
If you don't know where The Rockaways are, they're about halfway between Manhattan and David Koch's house in Southampton, Long Island. He threw that $60,000 a plate fundraiser for Mitt Romney back in July.
I know you know David Koch, because they sent a letter to you guys last week from Dave and all the oxymoron's over at AFP, requiring you vote "no" on the Sandy Relief Package because of all the 'pork' in it, or say the penalty of a throwing a gazillion dollars in negative ads at you when you come up for re election. Can you say "passive-aggressive blackmail?"
I want you to think about a couple of things as you mull over what to chip away from this relief package, this isn't the defense budget these are people's lives and you will have blood on your hands.
There are two kinds of victims of this horrific storm, those who have catastrophic flood damage requiring thousands of un-reimbursed dollars to repair and those who have lost everything and only their hearts need repair and there is no price tag for that.
You have to understand, on October 27 these people had ordinary lives, hopes, dreams, work, children... and then at 8 pm the night of October 28 their lives changed forever! It could happen to you, you know, with your smarmy smiles and coded bigotry as you do your West Wing Walk out of chambers having accomplished absolutely nothing since you've been there except make everyone hate you... It could happen to any of us.
I ask myself everyday, is there no end to the suffering these people have to endure? And with one swipe of your 'working digits' you could alleviate some of their pain.
And three days ago, they took down the warming tents at 129th Street and 94th Street. It seemed so harsh. The timing of it with no backup plan was so callous and cruel, having no regard for these folks, what they've been through. One man said, "It was so sad like losing and old friend, I don't know how these people are going to survive." And another woman, found wandering without her shoes on a brutally cold day, no winter clothes. "There's no reason to even leave my house now."
I tell you this because the tents were a hub, a place for community for a hot meal, a place to sign up for stuff, FEMA, LIPA, insurance, to guided through the mire of 'bureaucratic indifference' as a friend said. It was the one bit of warmth, for their souls as well as their bodies. It was something to look forward to. They served 2,000 meals on 94th street on Thanksgiving. There was a tree lighting on 12/12/12 and the faces of the children they were like the faces of children in war. It would break your hearts... although yours appear to have been surgically removed. You know most of the folks you're turning your backs on... voted for you!
The timing was just inhumane, one would almost think it was done for the end of the year tax write off. We'll never know. I hate to say it but why the hell would they shut them down three days before the end of the year. And now I understand, the temporary hotel housing FEMA is paying for will end on January 12. And all those people will be homeless, it will be a diaspora the likes of which this country has never seen. I don't know what the reason is behind any of this unless it's just another serendipitous joke played on them.
You have an opportunity, an act of charity in the truest sense of the word, the charity of Ghandi and Mother Theresa.
You could actually do something you'd feel good about for the end of your days and not the abomination you have made of our government. We all have the capacity for redemption.
All you would need, in Grover Norquist parlance, are "working digits to sign the bill."
Last night I met a beautiful man. He stayed during the storm, many of them did because of Irene, they didn't believe the dire forecast. The boy who cried wolf.
As the water rose to the second floor his sister said, "I'm not a praying woman but I prayed." Then he told me he went to bed with his daughter and sister, they held each other tightly and fell asleep in each other's arms, thinking they might never awake.
"La vida es sueño" he said
... life is but a dream.