Many Guyanese homes affected in Hurricane Sandy

Dear Editor,

Regarding your news item, ‘New York Guyanese grappling with Sandy aftermath‘ (SN, Nov 5), the destruction wrought by Hurricane Sandy can never be documented. Devastation is an underestimation. Every ethnic group and every neighbourhood was affected. Some were more affected by the storm than others. Virtually every Guyanese I spoke with said it was a frightening experience.

Initially, I thought Guyanese Americans suffered minor damage based on conversations I had.  But having surveyed various areas travelling around where Guyanese are settled in Queens and speaking with them, I learnt that many, many homes were affected. Some homes were completely washed away while others were flooded and will have to be torn down and reconstructed.  My home was not affected but several homes in my neighbourhood were destroyed by uprooted trees or broken limbs and downed electric wires.

In Queens, Guyanese are clustered in greater numbers in Richmond Hill, Jamaica, Hollis/Queens Village, St Albans, Howard Beach, Lindenwood and Far Rockaway, etc.  In Brooklyn, Guyanese are clustered in Cypress Hills, Flatbush, etc.  Of all the areas, Guyanese in Far Rockaway, a remote part of Queens, seemed to have suffered the greatest damage, with  houses, apartments, and cars damaged.  It was like a war zone – completely flattened.  Virtually no home or its furniture can be salvaged. Flooding was the major cause of the damage followed by downed trees that knocked off electric power.  Many homes in Richmond Hill and Cypress Hills lost power for days.  In some areas, Guyanese (and indeed other nationalities) are still without power.

What stood out among Guyanese was the assistance they received from family and friends.

Virtually every affected Guyanese – hundreds if not thousands of them whose homes were destroyed or lost electric power bunked – with families and friends. For this, I applaud every Guyanese who provided assistance to others.

Very few Guyanese ended up at evacuation shelters. I volunteered at one shelter and only one Indo-Guyanese woman married to a Sri Lankan was there with their two kids evacuated from Far Rockaway. Later in the week, a family with three kids from Upper Cortentyne sought shelter.

Colleagues who volunteered at John Adams said they did not see any Guyanese at the shelter, but noted a few Guyanese medics and nurses assigned by area hospitals to aid the evacuees.

At the shelter where I volunteered, Punjabi Sikhs were the first to respond with warm meals for the more than 700 evacuees on Monday night, repeated on Tuesday and Wednesday.

This was followed by other West Indians (Jamaicans) who donated hot meals for dinner. Other communities also provided food.  Guyanese from Richmond Hill did not respond until Sunday evening. Several members of a family from the East Coast bought food that was distributed to the evacuees. It was disappointing that more Guyanese did not respond aiding the evacuees with meals.

But food was not a serious problem for the many evacuees.

The greatest challenge facing everyone after the storm was gas to fuel vehicles. There has been a shortage everywhere with long lines. Lining up for gas, Guyanese can be overheard comparing their experience with gas shortages in Guyana during the 1970s and 1980s under Burnham.

Another storm is brewing and it will be sure to have a serious impact on Guyanese Americans and I am sure that Guyanese will respond with warmth and kindness.

Yours faithfully,
Vishnu Bisram

More in Letters

default placeholder

GRA employees are not public servants

Dear Editor, According to the media there appears to be a misconstruction of roles, respectively of the Chairman and Board of the Guyana Revenue Authority, and that of the President, GPSU; probably because in one instance the authors are uninformed of the Revenue Authority Act 13 of 1996, amended by 16 of 2003, Clause 2 (1) which reads as follows: “Functions of Governing Board (16 of 2003) “(1) The Governing Board shall be responsible for – “a)   subject to subsection (2) the approval and review of the policy of the Authority; “b)   the monitoring of the performance of the Authority in carrying out functions; and “(c)  the discipline and control of all members of staff of the Authority appointed under this Act.” In an apparent rush to personalise a difference of positions between the two parties much ado has been made of the quoted expressions of the Chairman, as distinct from the statutory authority of that office and the Board.

default placeholder

Fishermen from Guyana and Suriname are the ones most affected by piracy

Dear Editor, I write on behalf of the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organisation, the Guyana National Fisherfolk Organisation and the Suriname Fisherfolk Organisation ‒ Visserscollectief.

default placeholder

SOCU and SARU wield a political hatchet but masquerade as law enforcement agencies

Dear Editor, Just last week, I examined the causal connection between taxation and fear and economic decline in the context of the Guyanese economy.

default placeholder

To hang or not to hang

Dear Editor, To hang or not to hang has been a topic in Guyana, the Caribbean and much of the free world for several decades.

default placeholder

Working at grass-roots level more effective than Candlelight Vigils

Dear Editor, I wish to express my appreciation for the complimentary remarks and invitation extended by Mr Annan Boodram of Caribbean Voice in his letter of 21st July in the Stabroek News, in the context of the ‘debate’ on rum and alcoholism, etc (‘Letter on alcoholism referred to all alcoholic drinks, not just rum’).

default placeholder

Thoughts on the second day of the Test

Dear Editor, Lunch-time second day of the first Test India v West Indies: I watched half of the morning session on TV and listened carefully to the comments of Bishop and Dujon about the handling of the bowlers.

Comments

About these comments

The comments section is intended to provide a forum for reasoned and reasonable debate on the newspaper's content and is an extension of the newspaper and what it has become well known for over its history: accuracy, balance and fairness. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments which contain attacks on other users, slander, coarse language and profanity, and gratuitous and incendiary references to race and ethnicity.



Stay updated! Follow Stabroek News on Facebook or Twitter.

Get the day's headlines from SN in your inbox every morning: