Published November 08, 2012
To donate funds to Staten Island Residents go to https://www.fundraise.com/sandyrelief . To donate building supplies send to Gateway Rotary Foundation-Brown Cross. 463 Mill RD 10306 e-mail Browncross@gmail.com. Or send checks to the Gateway Rotary Foundation-Brown Corss to PO BOX 50168 Staten Island NY 10305.
Residents of Staten Island, New York are cold, homeless, and fed up with the lack of federal help more than a week after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the area and less than 24 hours after being hit with a more powerful than expected nor'easter.
“We’ve seen one FEMA car in a week,” Gennaro said. “I am embarrassed of my country, my government, the media… The 150% of the supplies we are providing are from our neighbors.”
Gennaro, vice president for a private charter jet company based in New York City, says both FEMA and the Red Cross have been non-existent and he has been helping to coordinate rebuilding efforts with neighbors on the island instead.
“They knew water was coming a mile in and told people to leave - OK,” Gennaro said of FEMA. “What the **** was the day after plan? Obama got re-elected based on his response. What *&%$*&@ Sandy Relief? The same response we saw in Libya, my family members, my countrymen are dying.”
In fact, the garbage men have been more helpful, he said.
“They deserve purple hearts,” he says.
A lifelong Staten Island resident, Gennaro, is recruiting volunteers for the local Brown Cross and the Gateway Rotorary Foundation to organize supply posts and dispatches along the island. So far, they have an estimated 2,000 volunteers, many contractors, who are taking matters into their own hands by fixing homes, draining basements, and clearing debris.
Gennaro says they are in need of building supplies – not food - and private donations that can go directly to families. He guarantees 90% will go directly to buying warehouse and building materials. Things like electrical panels, circuit breakers, sheet rock, roofing, boilers, etc.
“We are not leaving our properties for other people to rebuild. There is nowhere for these people to go,” he said of countless families with devastated homes who he’s seen on his drives throughout the island. “You have to rebuild quickly. We got to get back up.”
FEMA closed disaster relief centers Wednesday because of the nor'easter angering already frustrated residents. The agency has received praise for their quick response by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. But the agency responded to anger and criticism with a statement Wednesday. "Community relations teams are on the ground in the hardest-hit areas of the mid-Atlantic going door-to-door to inform disaster survivors about available services and resources and to gather situational awareness."
Gennaro has driven around damaged neighborhoods every night since the storm – assessing, recruiting, and helping. But his efforts hit an emotional head on Wednesday night, during the heart of the nor'easter when he was called to help a family find a man and a young boy lost in the snow. They were found, but he ended up picking up a 24-year-old young man named Angelo Decinoterzo, who was caught walking four miles in Wednesday’s snow storm after trying to catch a bus.
The man had lost his home in the storm, and was attempting to get to his family’s home in Brooklyn.
Decinoterzo says he was even denied a ride by police officers who said they couldn’t give him a ride to the bus stop just four blocks away.
Rebuilding is the most immediate need, but calls for an election recount are growing as well. Gennaro was unable to vote because he was stuck in line for gas.
“The East Coast communities are speaking via Facebook, Twitter, and are demanding a recount, it’s impossible for us to be voting under these conditions -- no Internet, no petrol, no fuel, no money, not even telephones,” he said. “We demand a recount.”
Gennaro says he doesn’t care for Romney or Obama. He says it's simply a civil rights issue.
“How can you even think about voting? They paid no mind to us. They (candidates) didn’t even mention us the whole night.”
The boisterous leader, whose father and family have owned pizza shops and businesses on the island for years, is also sick and tired of being called a victim.
“I’m not a victim,” he said. “We are supporting families and friends.”