Gawkers head to Sandy-ravaged neighborhoods
Residents of New York's hard-hit neighborhoods feel as if they're on display as disaster tourists descend to survey the damage.
Boats pushed up by Hurricane Sandy lie against residences near a marina on Nov. 2, 2012 in the Staten Island borough of New York City (© John Moore/Getty Images)
Garbage trucks, hulking military vehicles and mud-caked cars move slowly through a Staten Island waterfront neighborhood still reeling from Superstorm Sandy's storm surge. Then comes an outlier: a spotless SUV with three passengers peering out windows at a mangled home choked with sea grass.
Residents recognize the occupants right away. They're disaster tourists, people drawn to the scene of a tragedy to glimpse the pictures they've seen on television come to life.
Two weeks after the superstorm socked the region, cleanup continues in New York and New Jersey, which bore the brunt of the destruction. At its peak, the storm knocked out power to 8.5 million in 10 states, and some during a later nor'easter. About 73,000 utility customers in New York and New Jersey remained without power late Sunday, most of them on Long Island.
But the storm didn't just bring darkness and despair; it also brought the gawkers.
"The gawking was amazing last week...I felt violated."
"It's a little annoying," said Chris Nasella, who paused as he finished cleaning up a home reduced to a shell on the first floor. "By the same token, I would do it, too. I don't think anyone wouldn't want to look at boats that are picked up and left on the streets. As long as you don't get a kick out of it, it's an amazing thing."
There weren't many tourists in Nasella's neighborhood on Saturday. Cleanup crews had done some extensive work. The neighborhood is only accessible through streets clogged with idled cars in gas lines and traffic made deliberate by still-powerless traffic signals.
But they left an impression.
"The gawking was amazing last week," said Joanne McClenin, whose home was filled with water five feet high on the night Sandy came ashore. "It was kind of offensive as a homeowner, because I felt violated."
As the power outages on Long Island drag on, New Yorkers railed Sunday against the utility that has lagged behind others in restoring power, criticizing its slow pace as well as a dearth of information.
Separately, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano visited with disaster-relief workers Sunday in Staten Island's Midland Beach neighborhood, which is still devastated two weeks after Sandy hit.
The lack of power restoration for a relative few in the densely populated region at the heart of the storm reinforced Sandy's fractured effect on the area: tragic and vicious to some, merely a nuisance to others.
Perhaps none of the utilities have drawn criticism as widespread, or as harsh, as the Long Island Power Authority. Nearly 67,000 of the homes and businesses it serves were still without power late Sunday. That was almost all of the remaining outages in New York state.
"We certainly understand the frustration that's out there," LIPA's chief operating officer, Michael Hervey, said in a conference call late Sunday. But, he said, the storm had been worse than expected, no utility had as many workers in place beforehand as it would have liked, and the power was coming back rapidly "compared to the damage that's been incurred."
"I was so disgusted the other night," said Carrie Baram, 56, of Baldwin Harbor, who said she calls the utility three times a day. "I was up till midnight, but nobody bothered to answer the telephone."
LIPA has said it knows that customers aren't getting the information they need, partly because of an outdated information technology system that it is updating. Sunday, executives said they were working on setting up information centers near the most heavily damaged areas. The company also said it had deployed 6,400 linemen to work on restoring power, compared to 200 on a normal day.
Disater Touristst/Gawkers ???
IF they are NOT there with Bottled Water...Non Perishable Food Items, Blankets Etc...To HELP the Victims/Residents and Other Personnel there to Help ???...Maybe even a $100.00 ENTRY FEE ???...PER PERSON ???...Or MORE ???
They DO NOT BELONG THERE...they should somehow be kept from entering an already VIOLATED NEIGHBORHOOD...Trying to Recover...
Maybe a SIGN at the entrances...on what Might Be Left of Someone's Drywall...Written in MUD ???saying something like...
IF You are Not a Resident...Or...Not here to HELP...Stay Out !!!...Turn around NOW...Go Back Home and DONATE ???
The GAWKERS should Turn Around, Go back to their Warm Homes with Hot Meals...Go Online and GAWK at the Pictures...and...HOPEFULLY...MAKE A DONATION !!!
Stay HOME...the GAS $$$ NOT Spent to go and GAWK Could Provide a few Meals...
DONATE INSTEAD ??? !!! ???
P.S. I Am In WPB, FL...But... I too Feel VIOLATED FOR the VICTIMS when people spend Gas $$$ they could be DONATING For Food, Water, Blankets ETC to GAWK At Other Human Brother's and Sister's TRADGEDY ???
Consulte Your HEARTS and BRAINS ???
there are a BAZILLION Pictures of ALL The Disaster Areas that Need HELP...NOT Curiosity GAWKING...ONLINE To VIEW??? !!! ???
Again...ANYONE NOT There To HELP ???
Please Be HUMANE...and STAY OUT ???
If You Do Not ???...You Are NOT Helping those who ARE There to Help...GET IT ???
Same thing happened when my neighborhood got hit by an f2 Tornado. My house was hit directly. There was hundereds of people surveying the damage...