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East Coast struggles to recover


Survivors tell of terrifying storm; devastating aftermath

Gusts of winds up to 90 miles per hour Monday night sounded like a freight train to Scott Holman.by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: LES STONE/AMERICAN RED CROSS - Rescue personnel used boats and even front-end loaders to reach residents stranded by the Atlantic tidal surge compounded by the heavy rain and winds of Hurricane Sandy earlier this week. Pictured here are residents of Toms River, N.J., using a boat to navigate flooded streets.

From his top floor home in a converted Brownstone apartment in Manhattan’s East Village, he heard several explosions and saw lights flicker after a power transformer exploded.

The power went out completely, as his street flooded knee-deep and his basement filled floor to ceiling.

“New Yorkers can put up with just about anything,” said Holman, a long time New York resident and former Troutdale resident. “We were just trying to ride it out.”

But Holman says Hurricane Sandy was the most intense storm he’s witnessed since moving to New York in 1985, causing at least $20 billion in damages across four regions, including 24 states, and 151 total deaths.by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: LES STONE/AMERICAN RED CROSS - Kaitlyn Miller and her boxer, Coulton, take refuge in the pet friendly evacuation shelter at Pine Belt Arena in Toms River, N.J. The American Red Cross is managing the facility for the human population, which topped 400 Monday night, while the County Animal Response Team is managing space for pets in a separate area of the same building. CART supervisor Barbara Mason-Ward said her team hosted about 45 dogs, about 25 cats, three birds, a ferret, a rabbit and three hermit crabs Monday night, as Hurricane Sandy raged outside.

While Holman’s power is still out, making it a challenge to work from home as a creative director, and his home faces significant damages from the flooding, he feels lucky to have missed the severity of flooding, fires and deaths that other regions experienced.

Watching splintered tree trunks, branches that fell onto cars, closed parks and a subway system down because of flooding, former Portland area resident Jocelyn Noonan says she feels lucky to live in an area that didn’t lose electrical power. She lives in Park Slope, a neighborhood in western Brooklyn.

“People in our neighborhood are just looking for things to do and ways to get out of their apartments and get back to work,” said Noonan, a New York University graduate student studying speech pathology. “Our local YMCA is functioning as a shelter for displaced residents from nursing homes in Rockaway, near the coast.”by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: LES STONE/AMERICAN RED CROSS - Nancy Barrett, Red Cross volunteer from Nevada, is the manager of the evacuation shelter at Pine Belt Arena in Toms River, N.J. Early Monday afternoon, she called a meeting to update shelter residents on storm conditions and answer their questions.

Noonan has been volunteering in the makeshift nursing home and recommends people back home contribute through the American Red Cross.

Ed Johnson, a former Gresham Outlook news intern, produced two newspapers during Hurricane Sandy — The New York Observer and a real estate publication. He said an illustrator who had lost power at his home walked from downtown to deliver an image for the front page of The Observer.by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: LES STONE/AMERICAN RED CROSS - The oak that shaded this home on Avon Court in Toms River, N.J., for 70 years yielded to Hurricane Sandy Monday, just half an hour after Bridget Dowd and Ken Mantila evacuated to her parents home. Dowds neighbors pitched in Tuesday afternoon to trim the fallen monster down to size and get a tarp over holes in the roof. Knock on wood, the water damage is not too bad, Bridget told a Red Cross disaster volunteer.

Manhattan still didn’t have power as Johnson took a taxi home Tuesday around 9:30 p.m. “It was just eery to see a place that’s usually bustling with life” with no lights, said Johnson, a resident of Crown Heights. “You’ll never see New York like that again.”

“Besides all the people who were really hit hard, there’s concern for the loss of homes, safety and infrastructure,” Johnson says. “Getting things done is a lot harder. Many people are dealing with huge consequences from the storm, and there’s still a lot of need out here.”

Tiffany R. Vesterman, first cousin of Outlook Staff Writer Rob Cullivan, lives with her husband, Germann, and their toddler daughter in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. A junior high English teacher, she said Sandy had left “Katrina-like” conditions in its wake, comparing it to the storm that hit New Orleans in 2005.

“It was really scary,” she said of Sandy’s arrival, noting how its fierce winds rattled buildings around their apartment and uprooted trees. “Every block around us was devastated, with trees falling down.”

She and her family have already offered shelter to one friend, whose home was damaged, and she says at least three of her colleagues suffered damage to their homes as well.

Fortunately, the Vestermans prepared for the storm, stocking soup and other supplies, she said. Not everyone was so lucky, she added.

“Now everyone’s price gouging,” she said of area stores.

Families are returning to their homes to find them uninhabitable. They need clean-up supplies, a place to sleep at night while their homes are being repaired and food and water to sustain them until power is restored, observers have noted.

With severe flooding, power failures and wind damage along the East Coast from the 1,000-mile-wide super storm, the Red Cross has opened 250 shelters in nine states and mobilized more than 1,700 trained Red Cross workers to support relief efforts across 16 states.

In Sandy’s wake, the Salvation Army is stationed in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut, serving meals in shelters, offering charging centers for electronics, helping with shelter assistance and providing clean-up kits, hygiene kits, shower units, and first aid supplies.

Most of the 12,000 Wells Fargo ATMs across the country, including those in Oregon and Southwest Washington, are accepting donations for the American Red Cross relief efforts through Tuesday, Nov. 13, with no fee. The bank is also donating $1 million itself — $250,000 for the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fun and $750,000 for nonprofits conducting grassroots relief efforts.


American Red Cross

Visit redcross.org to make a donation, sign up for updates about the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy or find a blood drive to benefit those affected by the hurricane.

Catholic Charities USA

To donate to efforts to help people affected by Sandy, call 1-800-919-9338, send a check to Catholic Charities USA, P.O. Box 17066, Baltimore, MD 21297-1066 or visit catholiccharitiesusa.org.

Salvation Army

Visit salvationarmyusa.org, call 1-800-SAL-ARMY or contribute $10 via phone bill by text messaging the word STORM to 80888, and confirming the donation with the word “yes.”

Wells Fargo

Visit wellsfargo.com or visit one of its Oregon or Southwest Washington ATMs to donate to American Red Cross efforts through Nov. 13.