By Yochanan Gordon
No one ever imagined that two weeks after hurricane Sandy, despite it being the worst such storm in a century, that we would still be feeling our way around in the darkness to find our way around our homes. Although many of us have taken up temporary residences at friends or family, no matter how lavish the accommodations have been, home remains home and due to inaction and utter negligence on the part of LIPA we have been robbed of our most basic sense of security and we cannot be silent about it.
The truth is, people have been talking and writing hoping to be heard and bring about an end to this gross irresponsibility. Open letters to Mayor Bloomberg in last week’s 5TJT from a resident of Far Rockaway who has been without power since the onset of Hurricane Sandy is an attempt of someone who has been suffering and is forced to answer to his wife and kids who incessantly and almost impatiently inquire as to when they could resume living life normally as they had prior to the storm. Community protests and collective blackmails of LIPA to show them that we will not tolerate this kind of treatment are all attempts along the same lines to bring an end to this fiasco, but the point is that our feelings and personal experiences throughout this seemingly unending debacle cannot be overstated and must be continued until our voices are heard and accountability and repercussions are served by the parties that are most responsible for putting our lives on hold.
No one is blaming this storm on LIPA. If the lights went out or had to be put out to ensure security throughout the storm that is understood and arrangements could be made for a day or two until things could revert back to normal in a manner of safety and responsibility. But what’s most troubling is the duplicitous and inconsistent daily reports regarding the reasons behind the perpetual blackouts’ and when power will ultimately be restored without having to resort to guessing games to figure it out. As upstanding residents who collectively pay our bills ahead of time we all deserve to know the truth regarding what is going on. When the Mayor of Lawrence says that there is no one at LIPA to speak to and that he doesn’t know where to turn almost two weeks after this has begun there is something terribly wrong. It is in these times when we rely most on our elected officials to help us navigate these circuitous cycles and achieve the desired results on our behalf, but when their calls for help are being ignored, falling on deaf ears it is time to shake up the current system and bring about change in this area because things cannot go on any longer the way it has been for nearly two weeks now.
The streets of the 5 Towns are one big danger zone reminiscent of some third world country with a depleted security team and no real sense of leadership. Driving through the streets conveys a tangible feeling of gloom and melancholy as I would imagine the streets of Benghazi, Libya or Syria amidst the uprising and revolution that it is currently undergoing. We, despite the travesty perpetrated against us have carried ourselves thus far in a dignified matter. But if you occupy a position of power or are in anyway associated with the current blackout throughout town rest assured that if drastic progress is not seen we will take to the streets and bring about change in a more proactive fashion.
For many the last time they conducted a day’s worth of business was prior to hurricane sandy. How could anybody, given the tenuousness of today’s economy and the rising expenses of living as a frum Jew in an affluent neighborhood in the highest tax bracket in the country miss even a week or a day of organized business and still keep his or her family afloat and comfortable. No bank or credit card company will forgo a loan no matter the circumstances and there is nobody to turn to and no accountability or repercussions being enforced to make amends or compensation for the lost time and business that has ensued as a result of all this.
This is the second weekend where families are displaced to various communities that have seamlessly recovered since the storm set in. Only we, in the 5 Towns are still knee deep in a crisis that should have been settled hours or a day or two after it set in.
The graciousness of local organizations, families and individuals to help those severely affected by the extreme weather patterns is heartwarming and inspiring and is something which will hopefully continue well after the destructed and contaminated areas are rebuilt. Certainly, G-d wants nothing more than us to band together and lookout for each other’s well being and never has this been displayed on a grand scale than during this current crisis. However, there will be nothing more unforgivable than seeing the responsible parties walking away from this well after things are normalized without having to answer for all the misinformation and irresponsibility and without facing the repercussions of leaving hundreds of thousands of people in dark and frigid homes unable to eat a square meal or to feed hungry and tired children after a long day in the dark and cold.