FEMA Town Hall after Hurricane Sandy

So there was this weather event that happened late last year. You may have heard about it – Hurricane Sandy……..well, by the time it got to New York, it was reclassified as Superstorm Sandy (SSS) but to-MAY-to / to-MAH-to right! There were many towns in my area of New York and New Jersey that got hit pretty bad due to the water surges. My parents’ house is in the disaster zone, but fortunately, was not hit as hard as many others – meaning their entire first floor was ruined and there are now sinkholes on the property, but they were fortunate enough to not have a basement and are raised slightly above street-level.

While the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) did not handle SSS perfectly, by any means, they certainly did help out a lot of people. What really bugs me is that a lot of people seem to expect FEMA to completely bail them out of this mess. FEMA is there for emergencies, not to cover your ass when you didn’t plan for future emergencies as you should have when you decided to take on the responsibility of being a homeowner. I understand from others that the current Flood Insurance Program (FIP) has not done right by anyone. Homeowners are waiting for payouts and are angry that FEMA handed out money to those who did not previously purchase insurance. However, I see these two things as separate issues. FEMA, the agency that is there for us in emergencies, is one issue and the Flood Insurance Program, the agency that insures homeowners against flood damage, is another issue.

On April 11th, 2013 FEMA held a Town Hall meeting at PS 146 in Howard Beach to discuss the new flood insurance zones and regulations. Unfortunately, the forum became a shitshow five minutes after it started. Between the latecomers banging chairs and climbing over people, phones ringing and then the crowd talking amongst themselves, you couldn’t hear a word FEMA was saying. However, that didn’t stop a select few from trying to rustle up the crowd into a riot. There were several people who kept asking questions without actually hearing the answer. There were also people who asked questions about things that had already been spoken about by FEMA and of course, they instead created their own scenarios in their head. These people are the ones who are loud and insist they are right and because they are louder than others, they are the ones who get attention. After 30 minutes or so, I had to walk out along with lots of other people.

Unluckily for me, I seem to have missed a great show. I was told that a guy named “Connolly” from Broad Channel started calling out about the government conspiracy to force Howard Beach and southern Queens residents to sell their homes to the government so that the state could build condos in their place, thus generating revenue for the city. I found this to be highly unbelievable, but I was intrigued. I turned to one of my closest friends, Google; however, as magnificent as the G-man is, he was unable to show me any information on this conspiracy. What I did find was the Broad Channel Civic Association (BCCA). I thought to myself, “Surely, they must know about this!”.

BCCA has a Facebook page; they have it set up as a person though and not as an organization which I found odd, but I friended them anyway. Right away the chatter about the FEMA Town Hall began. I joined in the chat even though I disagreed with a lot of the beliefs on the page. After several minutes, the moderator blocked me from commenting on the timeline. I guess they are a closed-minded group. As Broad Channel has a reputation for being racist and self-serving, I was disappointed to know that their civic association would not even allow someone to speak on their measly little timeline.This does not help to improve their reputation. You can read the post for yourself here and decide if I should have been blocked.

Anyway, the point of all of this is that we all have to let our anger and resentment go. We need to help each other out – and help ourselves as well. Stop expecting the government or other people to bail us out of situations. Yelling and berating people is not the answer. It only makes you, and us as a group, look like idiots so stop, please! Listen to facts and only facts; then make an informed decision based on what you have learned. Don’t punish spokespeople for doing their jobs. If you want things changed in life, then go about it in the right way. Contact your local politician for starters and see what you can do. Inciting riots is not the answer.
Hopefully, there will never be another disaster but if there is, I hope we all, including the government, have learned from this experience.

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