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Senate Republicans and members of the Independent Democrats will gather in Queens today for the first meeting of the Bipartisan Senate Task Force on Hurricane Sandy â€” and they have invited a couple of members of the Democratic conference as well.
"There isn't any room for poltical differences," said Queens Sen. Joe Addabbo who is a member of the Demcoratic conference. "We have no room for that when there are still 10,000 without power in the Rockaways."
Addabbo will be just one of a number of legislators who have seen their districts ravaged by the storm. From Staten Island to Long Island, the senators who will gather in the Rockaways today represent areas that need immediate attention.
Sens. James Sanders, Dean Skelos, Diane Savino, Andrew Lanza, Jeff Klein, Diane Savino, Martin Golden and Charles Fuschillo have been confirmed for the gathering. The group will tour the Rockaways and then meet with community leaders.
Addabbo says it will be the task force's job to keep the Legisalture connected to the areas and constituents that need the most help.
Preisdent Barack Obama is expected to ask Congress for about $45 to $50 billion in storm aid reports The New York Times. That figure is far below the $82 billion requested by New York, New Jersey at Connecticut â€śWhile $50 billion is a significant amount of money, it unfortunately does not meet all of New York and New Jerseyâ€™s substantial needs,â€ť Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten E. Gillibrand of New York and Frank R. Lautenberg and Robert Menendez of New Jersey, all Democrats, said in a joint statement. The storm aid may get tangled up in the battle between President Barack Obama and Republican legislators over debt and tax rates.
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Faith leaders working with Occupy Sandy on Hurricane Sandy relief efforts plan to converge on the residence of Mayor Michael Bloomberg to demand that the city provide temporary housing for those displaced by the storm or those living in unsafe conditions.
The rally in front of the mayor's office is expected to begin at 11 a.m. today.
As we reported Monday, elected officials say FEMA is considering renting empty apartments and housing those in need of safe refuge because of damage done to their homes by Sandy â€” especially in neighborhoods in the Rockaways.
Housing conditions are deteriorating in the communities on the peninsula as mold continues to grow unchecked in many homes, while still others remain without heat and power.
Grassroots groups have been protesting the lack of temporary housing for weeks now and the movement seems to be growing.
Representatives of Occupy Sandy say they are in desperate need of one resource this Thanksgiving in their effort to help residents of the hurricane-ravaged Rockaways recover: Volunteers.
"We just need bodies," says Kei Dowea, a volunteer who has been helping out with the recovery effort in the Queens community for about two weeks. "We have had such an incredible response it just needs to be maintained. I've seen a slight decline in turnout in the last few days and what we really need are people in vehicles or in groups."
Dowea says volunteers can head to Saint Jacobi Lutheran Church at 5406 4th Street in Brooklyn where Occupy Sandy has a supply station to pick up goods and bring them out to the Rockaways.
Don't have a vehicle? Dowea says that isn't a problem.
"We just got two semis that delivered supplies to the church, so people are welcome to buy things and bring them out, but what we need desperately are the things we already have to be brought out there," she says. "Just come up here and we can get them a ride out to Queens."
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that a new free shuttle service dubbed the H train will begin providing service to residents of the hard-hit Rockaway Penninsula at 4 a.m. tomorrow.
â€śThe A train tracks from Howard Beach to the Rockaways were almost completely destroyed by the storm, and replacing them is a tremendous undertaking,â€ť Cuomo said in a statement. â€śWhile that work continues, this new shuttle service will help improve travel for people in the Rockaways who are still recovering from Sandyâ€™s effects.â€ť
According to Cuomo's office, the cars that make up the new service were trucked to the Rockaways after the A train tracks were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.
â€śMTA New York City Transit has responded with unprecedented creativity to restore subway service to Rockaway customers,â€ť said MTA Chairman and CEO Joseph J. Lhota. â€śThis partial restoration of service is an important step for the Rockaways, but our work wonâ€™t be done until the A train is fully restored.â€ť
The Rockaways are still in need of basic relief aid like shelter, food and heat.
Officials have been meeting with the real estate industry in an effort to pair vacant apartments with those displaced by storm damage.
Half of those still without power in the city, some 35,000 residents, live in public housing. Residents and public officials have panned the housing authority's response to the storm. The tenants will be eligible for rent credits for the days they've been without power.
The Long Island Power Authority told hundreds of powerless Rockaway residents they would need to hire a licensed city electrician to inspect their homes before LIPA could restore power. Con Ed said Wednesday's norâ€™easter knocked out power to 55,000 customers in New York City and Westchester. And LIPA blamed 60,000 new outages on the storm.
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