Locals says slow Sandy recovery is like deja vu - FOX 8, WVUE, fox8live.com, weather, app, news, saints

Locals says slow Sandy recovery is like deja vu

Existing damage from Sandy captured by Beacon of Hope staffers. Existing damage from Sandy captured by Beacon of Hope staffers.

New Orleans, La. -- Locals continue to help victims of Hurricane Sandy deal with the painstakingly slow recovery process.   And they say many of the problems experienced in the aftermath of Katrina nearly eight years ago are nagging concerns for people in the northeast U.S.

"They are having to do a lot of the work themselves because of a little bit of a stalemate right now in the government funding coming down pike," said Tina Marquardt, executive director of the Beacon of Hope Resource Center.

The frustration remains palpable in northeastern communities hit the hardest by Sandy.

"I don't even know words to describe it, I mean it's absolutely insane," said a storm victim on April 29. 

Beacon of Hope was founded in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.  It focuses on the recovery of neighborhoods in the wake of disasters and encourages citizens to be active in shaping the recovery process.  

Marquardt and other Beacon of Hope staffers were in New York in April and before that in January.  They have been helping Sandy victims cope with the slow recovery, as well as the blight that accompanies such devastation.

"They were self-organizing themselves to try to keep that recovery work moving along, as we had to do ourselves on the ground in New Orleans," said Marquardt. 

Some people have said Katrina was supposed to be a teaching moment for the federal government.  But many Sandy victims and organizations working to assist them say FEMA continues to have its challenges.

"It's familiar... for it to be familiar, then it still needs a lot of changes," Marquardt said of FEMA's process for assisting victims.  "I think FEMA has made some improvements, but it still can't address the disasters that we're facing."

A FEMA response was not immediately available for this story.

Meanwhile, like Katrina victims, people impacted by Sandy are dealing with squatters in their damaged homes and thieves who are ripping off construction materials such as copper.

Marquardt said many victims are also stung by the changes to the National Flood Insurance Program and FEMA flood maps.

"They're also seeing some of the same roadblocks that we saw -- not knowing what the new base flood elevation is going to be, how are they going to be able to afford the elevation process, should they rebuild or would it be better for them and their families to relocate," Marquardt stated.

Beacon of Hope staffers are also giving Sandy victims information on how to protect uninhabited properties.

"It was hard to let them finish their sentences because we knew exactly what they were about to say, and we knew the exact answer that we wanted to provide," she said.

According to Marquardt, the Staten Island Recovery Team is still in need of a number of supplies.  They include: 

  • A small box van to pickup and deliver donated supplies;
  • gift cards to purchase supplies for volunteers;
  • gloves;
  • goggles;
  • masks.

Corporate donations and major sponsorships for volunteer operations are also needed.

To make donations, contact Tina Marquardt at 504-309-5120 or tmarquardt@beaconofhopenola.org.

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