Filipinos forced to flee homes in NY, NJ

By Rodney Jaleco, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Posted at Oct 31 2012 04:14 AM | Updated as of Oct 31 2012 12:15 PM

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Scores of Filipinos in New York and New Jersey were forced to flee their homes at the peak of “Sandy”, the most powerful and destructive storm to hit the East Coast in about 3 decades.

Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia said there have been no reports of Filipino casualties in the East Coast as well as in the Caribbean that was devastated by “Sandy” when it was still a hurricane. It weakened into a storm after hitting land yesterday.

He said reports from the Fil-Am community indicate that a number of Filipinos in New Jersey and New York fled their homes due to floodwaters shortly before “Sandy” made landfall near Cape May in the southern coast of New Jersey at 8 PM yesterday.

Cuisia said the Embassy has received reports that an undetermined number of Filipinos have been affected by floodwaters in Atlantic City, Jersey City, Keansburg and New Milford in New Jersey and in Inwood in Long Island, New York.

He said a number of Filipinos evacuated but others could not leave their homes.

He added that both the Embassy and the Consulate General in New York remain in touch with Fil-Am community leaders to check on the situation of the more than 460,000 Filipinos in 13 states across the eastern seaboard that bore the brunt of the hurricane.

With daylight, rescue operations are going full blast in affected areas.

The Metro DC region has escaped “Sandy’s” onslaught relatively unscathed. Flooding and power outages were reported in parts of the region but experts say the “derecho” storm that hit the area last July uprooted the weak trees, leaving sturdy ones standing.

Of the dozen deaths blamed so far on “Sandy”, most were from falling of trees. They are also the chief cause of power outages. Some reports estimate that as many as 7 million people in Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Maine and Ohio are without electricity.

The federal government was shut down for a second straight day.

With “Sandy” making its slow trek to the north, Cuisia said they are extending their advisory for about 39,000 Filipinos in Ohio and Michigan.

He urged them to continue monitoring local media for storm related announcements and avoid the coastline of the Great Lakes.

The Embassy said Filipinos who may need assistance can call either the Embassy in Washington D.C. or the Philippine Consulate General in Chicago at telephone numbers 202-368-2767 and 312-501-6458 respectively.

In South Carolina, the officers and crew of the BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF16) emerged unscathed from the storm that struck the Charleston area where the warship is being refurbished and refitted, according to Brig. Gen. Cesar Yano, the Embassy’s Defense and Armed Forces Attache.