Alternative Spring Break: Day 2 – Maritsa

Second Day on Staten Island and it was truly an unforgettable experience. Five months post Super Storm
Sandy and the devastation still exist on the Island.

Today, we met with the All Hands Volunteer service coordinators who assigned houses we were
scheduled to work on. Once arriving to the worksite, I saw from the outside what looked like a home, though
from the inside I saw the damage it incurred. In some cases, I was able to see a water line indicating
the amount of water entered into the home. In this house water had risen to the second floor, this
homeowner suffered from approximately 6-7 feet flood water inside their home.

Doing the work I saw and experienced the process of getting a homeowner back into the house. One
would think after so many months after the storm the infrastructures would be rebuilt.

Removing the destroyed items out of the house does not merely start the process of getting the
homeowners back in the homes. Some of the intense labor I did was:

  • Breaking down dry wall and once that was done
  • Remove insulation (which was often filled with mold)
  • Drill to remove shingles (wood) that held the dry wall up

By no means was this work easy. It was hard and strenuous at one point of another. Though, like many
of the victims of Hurricane Sandy nothing came easy for them.

Towards the end of the day, we met with a long time Staten Islander and activist named Bill Johnson.
Some of the important lesson I took away from him about the hurricane was Responsibility and Do
Diligence. The point being was for someone to take responsibility for the destruction of Super Storm
Sandy particularly the developers. Many of the developers knew the dangers of building on wet land but
build anyway providing a false hope and dreams for the lower and middle class of being able to have
water front property. As an activist, he walks around Staten Island to inform people and give support
where needed.

For many of these Staten Islanders and New Yorkers changes can be made to satisfy the needs of the
community once they come together on a united solution to push to lawmakers. Some of the important
lesson I took away for this day’s work was being a united force. From doing this work alone I saw how
powerful and efficient we were when I did work together with other Alternative Spring break students.
As we come together we are providing hope and stability for the future to come.

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