A Neighborhood in Crisis After the Storm


Kevin Klein’s, FCLC ‘15, neighborhood in West Islip, NY was devastated by Hurricane Sandy: houses flooded, rooves fell in and looting became a widespread problem. (courtesy of Kevin Klein)

Hurricane Sandy may have passed, but it has left thousands without homes, and even more without power and access to basic necessities. Kevin Klein, Fordham College at Lincoln Center, FCLC ’15, who lives in West Islip, New York, was especially affected.

In 1975, Klein’s house was built on a hill with the intention of preventing storm damage. However, this method proved futile against the wrath of Hurricane Sandy.

“Unfortunately, the lowest part of the house, where my dad’s office is and our garage is, was completely flooded. Our circuit breakers were destroyed because they were in our garage, and water actually rose up about four feet [there],” Klein said.

In addition to the flooding, Klein’s family went without electricity as a result of the storm. “We had power until about seven on Monday, [but] then it was shut off and we had to set up the generator. We have power lines underneath the ground, and the salt water actually destroyed [them], and so they have to dig up the power lines and put in new ones.” Klein remains without power as contractors recover the area in the coming weeks.

The level of destruction was unprecedented in Klein’s town. “This has never happened before in the history of this neighborhood,” he said. “We were told to evacuate but [since] we’re on a hill, we stayed.”

(Courtesy of Kevin Klein)

Many of Klein’s neighbors’ houses suffered even more damage than his own. “One of our neighbors’ houses has to be destroyed. They have to tear it down because it’s been so messed up. In Breezy Point, our friend’s house has to be torn down too [because] the deck was lifted up and went into their neighbor’s house,” Klein said.

For those whose houses remained intact after the storm, potential looting became an issue. Some have taken up arms in order to defend against looters.

“My neighbor is a retired general, and he has a gun, and he was walking around the neighborhood saying, ‘if anyone comes around here I’m gonna shoot them,’” Klein said. “All my neighbors are politicians and they all have guns [now]. The national guard was in our neighborhood.”

The effort to rebuild has begun in Klein’s neighborhood and in other affected regions. Still, many hurricane victims lack basic necessities like food and water.

For those who wish to help out, New York Cares, Occupy Sandy, NYC Services, Hope for New York are all accepting monetary donations online. Students can also find a donation bin the lobby McMahon Hall, which accepts socks, flashlights and other nonperishable items.

Individuals can also get involved by volunteering their time to the rebuilding process. Organizations like NewYorkCares.org are posting hurricane response projects online on a rolling basis. By signing up for the website’s services, students can gain access to volunteer opportunities in Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs.

Students have also formed a FCLC Hurricane Sandy response group, which posts volunteer opportunities periodically on its Facebook page. Students can look to this group to find out how to pitch in and assist people in neighborhoods like Klein’s that were victims of the storm.