3948 Amboy Road is now a Sandy Toy Store, for all who have been affected by the hurricane. 12pm-8pm daily until December 24. They’re looking for volunteers too, if you want to elf it up.


Print version here. Please print a copy and keep at your hub.


Print version here. Please print a copy and keep at your hub.

I’d have been suspicious of me.

Here I  was, a stranger with no identifying jacket, or armband, or hat, or badge, walking around, alone, knocking on doors asking questions with an iPhone in-hand and logging answers and addresses into my shiny device. 

"Good morning, I’m a volunteer with the United Way of New York conducting a survey of residents’ evolving needs after the storm. The information is to be used by State, Federal and Non-profit agencies. Can I take ten minutes of your time and ask you a few questions?"

That’s how I explained my presence on their doorstep. I was assigned a two-block area, Beach 91st and Beach 92nd streets, between Beach Channel Drive and Rockaway Beach Blvd, near the Thai Rock restaurant. 

But to my surprise, the vast majority of the residents there opened their doors and answered the intrusive questions. They were friendly, kind, gracious people, eager to respond. Many here are firemen. They’re strong, resilient folks. 

 ”Do you have food?” 


"Do you have water?" 


"Do you have electricity?"


The blocks are mostly composed of detached single- and multi-family homes. Beach 92nd street was particularly striking because of how clean and ordered it was. No debris was visible on it. I was almost tempted to say that things were fine here. 

The survey questions made me feel silly. They seemed outdated, out of tune. But upon a closer inspection, things were not as fine as they seemed - not by a long-shot. While residents here had food, water and electricity, some were still without heat.

A retired fireman told me he’d recently switched to natural gas after the storm. “I have heat but my brother-in-law still doesn’t. I called a contractor. He’s still waiting on Rapid Response,” he said.  

After the survey we sat a bit, chatting about how his family weathered the tempest. His bushy mustache framed a determined smile. It was a smile, I thought, chiseled into his face from years of work as a rescuer. I imagined it would have been especially reassuring to see it if I’d been trapped in a burning building. 

As the ocean flooded his basement, he recounted, his oil tank had leaked all over. That’s when I finally pinpointed the smell that permeated his home. 

In this section of Far Rockaway, things were coming along, but lots of people still didn’t have heat. Those that did, had it because of their own effort and expense. 

Those relying on the city were still waiting for heat.

One family - a mom, dad and two-year-old - like many of their neighbors, were using space-heaters for warmth as they waited for “rapid response.” The father was a 41-year-old filmmaker who made a documentary about Far Rockaway’s surfer culture. The family had only recently bought their home. 

They weren’t worried about the heat, it was on the way. They were OK, they said. Once again, a block away, amid the grim recovery, there were smiles. But the optimism was tempered by the long legal, financial and emotional journey they now faced.

As I left the home I noticed two guys in a brand-new Mercedes going door-to-door giving away space-heaters. 

Recovery on Far Rockaway has been uneven. 

Many have it a lot worse than the area I visited on Saturday. One of the volunteers in charge of organizing the collected survey data told me that many of the poorest folks still don’t have access to food, or water, or electricity. “It’s disgusting.”  

But regardless of socio-economic status, all residents of Far Rockaway face a daunting bureaucratic nightmare. 

They are juggling FEMA applications, insurance claims, and disaster unemployment assistance, just to name a few issues. Landlord/tenant problems are becoming more pervasive as slumlords drag their feet to make repairs to damaged homes, many of which still lack electricity, heat, and hot water. For the poorest, food is still not easily accessible. Even in the middle-class area I was in, the supermarket had only been open for a day or so. Folks that don’t have cars or money to shop or friends to give them rides are still dependent on the food pantries and hot food tables offered by volunteers. 

A new phase of volunteering is gaining momentum: legal guidance.

There is free legal help available for residents to navigate the bureaucracy, but I worry that they don’t know about it. So I want to try and get the word out and I’m starting here, by listing a few resources I’ve found:

1) The definitive disaster legal assistance manual from Legal Services NYC (PDF):

2) A calendar of upcoming law clinics, New York Free Disaster Assistance Legal Clinics:

3) For law help including general information about disaster relief - Disaster relief for small businesses and not-for-profit organizations - Disaster unemployment assistance (DUA) and other work problems related to Hurricane Sandy - FEMA disaster assistance - Food stamp replacement - Homeowners: insurance and foreclosures - Immigrants affected by Hurricane Sandy - Tenants affected by Hurricane Sandy:

4) Follow the NY Bar’s blog - City Bar Justice Center news: 

5) For lawyers and non-lawyer volunteer opportunities - Hurricane Sandy Legal Relief Efforts:

“There is no storm, no fire, no terrorist act that can destroy the spirit of our city, and keep us from looking forward envisioning a better tomorrow.”

Um, that’s right Bloomberg.

Only lack of government preparedness before the storm, neglect for the city’s poorest residents, and a lack of shelters with running water and heat can destroy the spirit of our city… And only in the outer boroughs where your friends don’t live… in places that the majority of New Yorkers will never see.


Jersey Cares is a state-wide non-profit that recruits and engages volunteers in rewarding, effective efforts that address community-identified needs.  Following Hurricane Sandy, thousands of people have registered with Jersey Cares, offering to help their neighbors recover from the devastation.  Our $30,000 relief grant will provide additional staffing and other operational funding, allowing Jersey Cares to effectively deploy thousands of people across the state to help affected areas rebuild and recover.


From the Back To Basics group: 
As you know, many people here on Staten Island lost everything in Super Storm Sandy.  The outpouring of support has been overwhelming.  People have donated so much time, money, gift cards, food, clothes, etc.  This has been invaluable to those so terribly affected by the storm. 

            Many have expressed the desire to donate things such as furniture, appliances, kitchenware and other items to help families get started again with their lives.  The problem today is that so many families who lost their homes or whose homes were severely damaged are currently living in shelters, hotels or with family or friends.  They have no place to put these greatly needed items. 

            It is for this reason that we have initiated the Back to Basics project.  We have located a warehouse here on Staten Island that has been generously donated to us for use for the next few months.  It is our plan to collect as much new or very gently used furniture, kitchenware, appliances, etc.  We will store this in our warehouse and as families enter back into more permanent locations, we will be there to provide them with much needed support in this area.

             We will be accepting donations at our warehouse from 9am-3pm  the following dates: December 2 & December 9

If you have donations but are unable to get them to us, we will be sending out trucks to pick the items up on these four dates as well.  You can contact us in the following ways to make your donations:

Call us at:718-816-1422 Ext.  296

e-mail us at: backtobascicsinitiative@gmail.com

We are looking for the following donations:

Living room furniture  Lamps   TVs   TV stands  Dining room tables-chairs  Dishes-glasses  Pots  Pans   Silverware   Coffee makers  Toasters   Toaster ovens   Microwaves    New linens    New Comforters    Pillows   Towels

Please note that we will NOT be accepting beds or mattresses.  In addition, we will not be accepting broken or damaged furniture. ANY USED FURNITURE MUST EMAIL PICTURE 1st .  All checks or item Donations can be sent to : Where to Turn (MUST NOTE BACK TO BASICS on Check or any items you send in ) 150 –L Greaves Lane#312 , Staten Island , NY 10308

With so many Sandy benefits, dinners, fundraisers, shows, and drink events, I’m putting them all here. It’s hard to not find a way to support the relief effort. Have fun!!


The Staten Island Giving Circle has collaborated with Robert Ciraola and his Pack and Troop 5 to provide a little extra holiday joy for our community. They have arranged to have the choir from St. Nicholas of Myra Church (Manhattan – Mike Kormanik’s choir), possibly some choir members from Christ…


This coming Sunday, December 2, at 1pm, we will be hosting a community meeting in St. Margaret Mary’s Church (the actual church!) on Lincoln Ave and Olympia Blvd.

At the meeting:

-Occupy Faith will present a report on mold, reconstruction financing.

-Mold experts from Respond & Rebuild will do…

New Action Against 12 Gas Station Operators In New York City, Long Island & Westchester
NYS Law Prohibits Excessive Increases In Costs Of Essential Goods Like Food, Water, Gas, Generators, Batteries & Flashlights
Schneiderman: Our Ongoing Enforcement Means 25 Gas Retailers Will Be Held Accountable For Dramatic Price Increases
NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that his office has notified 12 gas station operators of his intent to commence enforcement proceedings against them for violations of the New York State Price Gouging statute in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. These are the latest actions in the Attorney General’s wide-ranging investigation of suspected gougers and it comes on the heels of hundreds of consumer complaints. Notification letters were sent to 13 gas stations earlier this month bringing the total number of targeted retailers so far to 25.
"Our office will continue to take enforcement actions against price gougers because ripping off New Yorkers is against the law," Attorney General Schneiderman said. “We are actively investigating the hundreds of complaints we’ve received from consumers of businesses preying on victims of Hurricane Sandy. There must be no tolerance for unscrupulous individuals who take advantage of New Yorkers trying to rebuild their lives.”
The Attorney General said there will be other notifications coming as the investigation into consumer complaints continues.
Among the current batch of 12 enforcement targets is a Mobil station at 3424 East Tremont Avenue in the Bronx where a consumer waiting in line for over an hour was just three cars from the pump when she was told that she would be charged $50 for five gallons of gasoline – $10 per gallon. In contrast, stations nearby were charging $3.95 a gallon.
At a second station, the Coastal station at 1575 Route 112 in Port Jefferson Station, a consumer reported being charged $4.69 per gallon of gasoline while neighboring stations were charging between $3.69 and $4.05. One consumer waited in line for over an hour and did not see a sign detailing prices until after the attendant began pumping gas for the customer.
The stations receiving notices from Attorney General Schneiderman include the following twelve stations:
1575 Route 112
Port Jefferson Station, NY 11776
Consumer Complaint: 4.69/gallon
1009 St. Route 109
Farmingdale, NY 11755
Consumer Complaints: $4.71/gallon
Liberty Petroleum
1278 Hempstead Turnpike
Elmont, NY 11003
Consumer Complaint: $6.99/gallon
3300 Hempstead Turnpike
Levittown, NY 11750
Consumer Complaint: $4.89/gallon
Staten Island
105 New Dorp Lane
Staten Island, NY 10306
Consumer Complaint: $4.89/gallon
141-50 Union Turnpike
Flushing, NY 11367
Consumer Complaint: $4.99/gallon
60-90 Elliot Avenue
Maspeth, NY 11378
Consumer Complaint: $4.79/gallon (cash)/$4.89 (credit)
92-10 Astoria Boulevard
East Elmhurst, NY 11369
Consumer Complaints: ranging from $4.89-$7.90/gallon
18-84 Flushing Avenue
Ridgewood, NY 11385
Consumer Complaint: $7.25/gallon
3424 East Tremont Avenue
Bronx, NY 10465
Consumer Complaint: $10/gallon
80 Bedford Road
Katonah, NY 10536
Consumer Complaint: $4.79/gallon
189 Route 59
Spring Valley, NY 10977
Consumer Complaint: $4.65/gallon
The above prices are each for regular gasoline.
New York State’s Price Gouging Law (General Business Law § 396-r) prohibits merchants from taking unfair advantage of consumers by selling goods or services for an “unconscionably excessive price” during an “abnormal disruption of the market.” The price gouging law covers New York State vendors, retailers and suppliers, including but not limited to supermarkets, gas stations, hardware stores, bodegas, delis and taxi and livery cab drivers. 
Today’s actions are based upon a review of both consumer complaints and independently-gathered pricing information.
New York’s price gouging law takes effect only upon the occurrence of triggering events that cause an “abnormal disruption of the market.” An “abnormal disruption of the market” is defined as “any change in the market, whether actual or imminently threatened,” that results from triggering events such as “weather events, power failures, strikes, civil disorder, war, military action, national or local emergency or other causes.” During an abnormal disruption of the market like Hurricane Sandy, all parties within the chain of distribution for any essential consumer goods or services are prohibited from charging unconscionably excessive prices. “Consumer goods” are defined by the statute as “those used, bought or rendered primarily for personal, family or household purposes.” For example, gasoline, which is vital to the health, safety and welfare of consumers, is a “consumer good” under the terms of the statute. Therefore, retailers may not charge unconscionably excessive prices for gasoline during an abnormal disruption of the market.
New York’s price gouging law does not specifically define what constitutes an “unconscionably excessive price.” However, the statute provides that a price may be “unconscionably excessive” if: the amount charged represents a gross disparity between the price of the goods or services which were the subject of the transaction and their value measured by the price at which such consumer goods or services were sold or offered for sale by the defendant in the usual course of business immediately prior to the onset of the abnormal disruption of the market. 
In other words, a “before-and-after” price analysis can be used as evidence of price gouging. Evidence that a price is unconscionably excessive may also include proof that “the amount charged grossly exceeded the price at which the same or similar goods or services were readily obtainable by other consumers in the trade area.” However, a merchant may counter with evidence that additional costs not within its control were imposed for the goods or services. Notably, the price gouging law does not prohibit any disparity between the price charged before and after there is an abnormal disruption of the market. Rather, the statute prohibits a “gross disparity,” when it is clear that a business is taking unfair advantage of consumers by charging unconscionably excessive prices and increasing its profits under severe circumstances that call for shared sacrifices.
If you believe you are a victim of price gouging or a post-hurricane scam contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Helpline at 800-771-7755 or find a complaint form online at: www.ag.ny.gov


Something symbolic to me is this picture. It is of my baby book, my sisters baby book, and the photo album from my moms baby shower. These were in the basement. I know for a fact that my mom would NEVER put these things in the basement. These are memories that we can never relive. I have never seen my baby book before that day, and now it’s ruined. It makes me sad, because these meant to much to my mom and it took her so long to put the information in them. She only got up to about when I was 3 or 4 years old, after that, the books went missing. My aunt put them in the basement, along with other valuable memories. Now, they are all destroyed, never to be seen again. Sandy took away precious memories, things that we can never get back. 

It’s crass to see people selling things to profit off of other peoples misery. Some people have lost everything and they don’t want to see t-shirts that remind them of what happened. Who wants to be reminded of the day when you lost your home and members of your family? I know I wouldn’t. Whenever there is a tragedy, there are always the few people who will try to make a buck off of the suffering of others. I think that is just wrong and rude.  

-Ashley Zeyer

"The stories of heartbreak are unimaginable… We met with first responders whose job was to find two children… Some elderly couples just couldn’t leave… Folks are looking to Washington for how can you help us… Some still don’t have electricity…" 


The application for the NYFA Emergency Relief Fund for artists in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York affected by Hurricane Sandy is now available. Visit www.nyfa.org or www.artspire.org for details. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis and grants made every two weeks.

In addition to the extraordinary generosity of the institutional funders cited above, we have been tremendously moved by the outpouring of support from artists and the arts community to support those in need. A number of groups have held or scheduled fundraisers or auctions, donated sale proceeds, or otherwise contributed to the fund. Any individuals, organizations or companies interested in making contributions or planning special events to benefit the fund can either

Today the President signed the New York City Natural Gas Enhancement Act into law, which will finally make the construction and operation of a new natural gas pipeline in New York City a reality. Given the destruction of Hurricane Sandy, this law could not come at a more critical time for New York City. This pipeline will help us build a stable, clean-energy future for New Yorkers and will ensure the reliability of the City’s future energy needs. I would like to thank President Obama for signing this bill into law and all of the New York City delegation members who supported it, especially the sponsors – Congressman Grimm, Congressman Meeks and Senator Schumer – for their leadership in securing this victory for New York City.
Mayor Bloomberg’s Statement on President Obama’s Signature on the New York City Natural Gas Enhancement Act (via nycgov)