New Yorkers Get Obama's Haiti Treatment
November 10, 2012 • 12:20AM

Each day of the post-Superstorm suffering in the Northeast, shows that the actual damage is caused by tolerating the continuation of the Evil Trio of Obama, Christie and Bloomberg and the lack of a U.S. economy. Particularly outstanding is their refusal to deploy full-strength military aid to the region. What's there is superb—7,200 National Guard, 500 Army Corps of Engineers staff, and other services—but it's not enough, and not activated for a top-down mission to minimize immediate threats and hurt, and set the stage for full-scale rebuilding. The absence of this is manifest across all aspects of means of existence—inadequate gasoline supplies, electricity provision, sanitation, shelter, food provision, etc. Look at the housing debacle.

As of Nov. 8, there are at least 15,000 units of public housing in the Rockaways, Coney Island, and Red Hook, with no heat, electricity or hot water, according to Steven Banks of the Legal Aid Society. "We're into the second week of this, and there is no real urgency to get it fixed... No can-do New York attitude here," he told the New York Times.

The Times reported today:

"Mr. Bloomberg said Thursday that 70 percent of these [public housing] buildings now have heat and hot water and 82 percent have electricity. But that leaves 120 buildings and the people who live in them without heat or hot water and 72 buildings and their residents without electricity.

"Whatever the precise numbers, by any accounting, life for these people is grim. On Wednesday afternoon, in the Far Rockaways, hundreds lined up for as much as three hours in the cold to get hot food promised by a makeshift delegation of volunteers. The multiple government agencies promising help were nowhere to be seen."

An individual complex, such as Red Hook Houses, has over 3,000 persons now consigned to hell.

- Housing Disaster Response Is a Disaster -

What was required right from the start, was in principle, the same as what should have happened in Port-au-Prince right after the 2010 earthquake: 1) make a rapid assay of numbers and locations of displaced persons, then 2) get them to safety, en masse. In New York/New Jersey, this means setting up camps—in the style of mobile military basing or Catskills fun centers (mess hall cafeterias, private quarters, etc.) where needed, and otherwise, identifying buildings for dormitory use, and finally, taking a county-by-county inventory of vacant rental space.

For Haiti, building camps on high ground, was turned down flat by the White House. Now for New York/New Jersey, the same "get lost" policy reaction is underway, with only a sham of dealing with housing. The disaster response on housing, is itself a disaster.

The assay stage would have involved simply doing a rough-and-ready head count of those in unfit dwellings—whether multi-family, or single unit. For example, the two most glaring categories of such dependent people, known within the first 24 hours of the storm, are those in the shoreline public housing complexes run by the N.Y.C. Housing Authority (there are a total of 400,000 NY residents in public housing); and secondly, those in the coastal communities, especially the barrier islands (Rockaway, Queens, and all along the Jersey Shore), whether in individual houses, or apartment buildings, all now uninhabitable. This latter category tends to have more means, but not for long. Many are still in the New Jersy shelters, which had about 5,000 persons mid-week.

Instead, it's fend-for-yourself. About 317,000 people throughout the multi-state region have registered for financial aid with FEMA, since the storm. According to Associated Press, more than 101,000 people have been deemed eligible for temporary housing programs. A subset of 56,000 have been deemed eligible for FEMA's program to receive grants for renting new place, or for housing repairs. The maximum rental grant is for 13 months. Then what? Some Long Island displaced residents have had to go 150 miles north, to Albany.

FEMA this week started bringing in trailers from its out of state centers. Its total stockpile is only in the "hundreds." FEMA Director Craig Fugate said Nov. 9 that the mobile homes will go to NY and NJ towns. "We're working on which sites they are going to go to."

But for dozens of thousands of people, the question is: where do I go, what will happen to me? All this adds up to one clear message—the order from the top is: the Haiti treatment.