Relief to Superstorm Sandy Survivors
In the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, floodwaters from Superstorm Sandy filled Rodrigo and Carmen's basement apartment. Most of their family's possessions and food were destroyed in the late October 2012 storm.
The youngest son, 5-year-old Junior, sobbed when he learned that his book bag, school work, and the family's laptop computer were gone.
"It's hard on all of us, you know, but we're the adults," said his sister, Maria, age 17. "We try to be strong... but it's not always easy."
Maria spent two days after the storm helping her mother and father clean up flood damage in their apartment. They lined the street with wet mattresses, ruined furniture, and trash bags filled with items they couldn't salvage.
There's little the family of five could keep.
"Everyone says it's material stuff and it can be replaced, but you still spend a lot of money on it," Maria said. "No one is in any position to buy mattresses and (replace) everything that was damaged."
The family received blankets and food kits from World Vision, shelter at a nearby uncle and aunt's home, and cleanup help from neighbors. The children have returned to school.
"Things are definitely better," Maria said. The lights are back on. The family bought furniture and mattresses, and the fridge is stocked with groceries.
But the floodwaters knocked out the apartment boiler. Until the boiler could be repaired, the family turned to the oven for heat, sleeping with "maybe like two sweaters and socks," Maria said.
Six years ago, Rodrigo and Carmen the couple brought their family to the United States from Mexico, seeking opportunity and a better life. Their community is made up of many immigrants, often working at low-income jobs.
Rodrigo works nights as a waiter in a bar. Carmen works at a factory in New Jersey. Rodrigo was out of work until his employer could reopen, but damage to the factory put Carmen's job on hold.
Going through the ordeal has brought the family closer together. "It's an eye-opener to see who would be there for you," Maria said.
And when they hear about a disaster somewhere in the world, the family says they have more compassion for those affected—and want to give what they can to help.