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Sick, frail struggle most in storm's aftermath

Associated Press Modified: November 10, 2012 at 10:02 pm •  Published: November 10, 2012
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"It's been cold. Lord, have mercy," Nixon said. She said she was also having trouble breathing at night. When Thompson said he would get her an ambulance, Nixon was overjoyed.

"Can I kiss you? Don't you walk away from me," she said, and planted a smooch on his cheek.

Another neighborhood resident, Joseph Williams, said that the home care aide who normally helps look after his 27-year-old son, who has cerebral palsy and needs a wheelchair, hasn't been able to visit since the storm. After days of trying to take care of him himself, in a flooded high-rise with no utilities, Williams gave up and carried him down seven flights, so he could be evacuated to Brooklyn.

Yet, there were rays of hope amid the gloom. In Newark, N.J., an Amtrak train arrived pulling a box car filled with donations from New Orleans.

Fuel lines in the region remained long, but were only a shade of the nightmare they had been in recent days. Some gas stations on Staten Island had 20 cars in line Saturday afternoon.

In Staten Island's waterlogged New Dorp section, volunteers walked in knots, often carrying shovels and pails with the price tags still on them. A Boy Scout troop served hot dogs and grilled cheese. People pushed grocery carts filled with food and bottled water. On one sidewalk, a generator was hooked up to a popcorn maker, spilling a fresh batch into a bowl.

Mandie Collins and Mary Lou Sabatini, from the West Brighton neighborhood of Staten Island, cooked a turkey and ham, and walked door to door with coolers offering sandwiches.

"It's surreal," Collins said. "I lived down the block before. I passed by my old apartment and it's gone."

Utility companies have made progress restoring power. Most service was expected to be restored in New Jersey over the weekend, and the utility that serves New York City and suburban Westchester County said it has restored electricity to about 99 percent of the 1 million homes and businesses that lost power in the storm and a subsequent nor'easter, though that percentage doesn't count tens of thousands of homes the utility says are too damaged to receive power.

Power problems remained unresolved on New York's Long Island, where about 300 people staged an angry protest at an office of the beleaguered Long Island Power Authority. About 130,000 of its customers still didn't have power Saturday, LIPA said.

Amid the drudgery and heartbreak of cleanup came one special moment for Joanne McClenin, who had 5 feet of water in her Staten Island home.

On Wednesday, her husband returned to their house to find someone had returned Joanne's 1930 baptism certificate from St. Anthony's Church in Manhattan. It had a smudge of mud on it.

The certificate had been stored in a file cabinet of her late parents' belongings, stored in a shed in their yard. The water from Sandy swept it away.

"It felt like my father was watching me," she said.

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Associated Press writers David Bauder, Verena Dobnik and Mae Anderson contributed to this report.