JERSEY City, NJ - It has been two weeks since Sandy devastated the East Coast. While relief and recovery are underway, some New Jersey residents said it's not enough.
The extent of the damages caused by superstorm Sandy and worsened by winter storm Athena is just too much for the East Coast that is rarely visited by hurricanes.
While Filipino parishioners at Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Jersey City are praying for the victims of Sandy and Athena, members of the Philippine-American Friendship Committee are surveying parishioners at this low-lying area of New Jersey what their specific needs are.
The data they gathered will be sent to the Jersey City Sandy Recovery Program so that specific relief items will be given to those in need.
“We're here to get intake forms for people who needed assistance…what they need like blankets, clothes, water, food, they can fill-out the forms so that they will be delivered directly to them,” said Helen Castillo of the Philippine-American Friendship Committee.
Country Village is a low-lying area of Jersey City, just a stone's throw away from the Passaic River.
Homeowner Bobby Dizon has been cleaning up his basement in the past few days. When the river behind his home overflowed during Sandy's wrath, chest-deep flood damaged most of his appliances.
Though power has been restored in his area, he's been living in his home without hot water and heat.
“Well, ang una naming gagawin, kailangan magawa ang heater, ang boiler, at saka ito kasi yun ang number one na ginagamit namin araw-araw, especially these days malamig na,” said Dizon.
Like most residents here, his home insurance does not cover flood damages. He has applied for disaster assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and is now waiting for their answer.
“We're here, as of close of business yesterday, we have over a 185,000 FEMA registrations for a total of $115 million of aid in just one week. So FEMA is really moving, we're working very closely with all the officials, we're trying to take care of everybody in the best possible way we can, this is big like they said it's a superstorm,” said Alberto Pillot, FEMA on-ground/on-site representative.
While power company PSE&G is working round the clock to restore gas and power in his neighborhood, tens of thousands of New Jersey residents are still in the dark.
For those without power, relief distributions are a blessing. Hundreds of people lined up, including a Filipino family who lost power for eight days. They have been waiting for about an hour or so just to get much needed blankets, bleach and ready-to-eat food, thanks to the Duane Reade Charitable Foundation.
“I guess it helps us a lot in our recovery,” said Megan Rivera.
While FEMA, power companies like PSE&G and Filipino community members are working tirelessly to provide relief and recovery assistance to the residents of New Jersey, it may take weeks, if not months, before the East Coast fully recovers from the twin super storms.