MANILA, Philippines – Basic services like water and electricity are still the main concern of Filipinos in areas hard hit by superstorm Sandy.
“The biggest problem is power outage and in two of the states some of the Filipino community members complain about lack of potable water particularly in some parts of Connecticut and also in Long Island in New York,” said Philippine Consul General to New York Mario de Leon.
De Leon said many Filipino-Americans were affected by heavy flooding and ran to evacuation centers. However, they still do not have the figures as to how many Filipinos were actually in evacuation centers.
“We are still in a stage of determining numbers. What we have done so far is identify where they are. We know that in Long Island, for instance, particularly in the Long Beach area there are Filipinos there who are sleeping in evacuation centers. Also in the Bronx, in the Island City there are some who sought refuge in friends’ homes and also homes of relatives. These are Filipinos who live in low-lying flood prone areas,” de Leon said.
The weather has improved a bit in New York, De Leon said, and more people can be seen walking the streets.
“Of course there is still no bus. Subway is still not available. I think it will be restored in about three to four more days,” he said.
He also revealed that authorities have shifted from search and rescue to clearing and restoration operations.
In Maryland, former ABS-CBN reporter Aladin Bacolodan said the state of calamity has been lifted.
“That means people are already allowed to go out or to check on their neighbors. There was a mandatory evacuation in a lot of areas last night where you were not even allowed to go out and drive or you'll be arrested. That was how serious it was,” Bacolodan explained through an interview with Headstart via Skype.
Bacolodan said most of the bridges and roads have been reopened in Maryland and in some parts of Pennsylvania and Delaware.
“We are ok and we are fortunate,” he said.
The storm made landfall along the coast of New Jersey on Monday evening, bringing heavy rains and strong winds. It has so far claimed over 40 lives and damages could amount to billions of dollars.
“The preparation part of this storm is really outstanding. A lot of government officials really did do their jobs, reminding people not to go out,” he said.
Bacolodan said not many Filipinos understand how severe the storm was. He said the storm was so huge it covered about 4 to 5 times the size of the Philippines.
“New York State alone is close to about one half the size of the Philippines. So were talking about 12 states here that were affected by the storm. So were talking about 4 to 5 times the size of the Philippines that was affected by one storm alone with 60 million people on it,” explained Bacolodan.
“That's how severe this weather formation is and that's why we really had to go out and prepare for this,” he said.
The flooding shut down major transportation systems as well as offices and small businesses that hurt the livelihood of many people.
“The stress that this storm has caused to individual families who are already in need of help is just unexplainable,” described Bacolodan.
With the US elections just around the corner, many political pundits, he said, say that this is going to impact the polls.
“Everybody is really watching now how the government is going to respond to this,” he said.
He added, “The days before the election is so short that before the federal help trickles down the elections may be over already”. [email protected]