By SASHA HARRINANAN Thursday, November 1 2012
TRINIDAD and Tobago nationals were among the millions yesterday struggling to recover from the devastation left in the wake of super storm Sandy, which battered the eastern seaboard of the United States on Monday.
Trinidadian Shawn Saroop, his wife Annie and their daughters Shivanni, three, and 11-month-old Serena, were among the worst affected. The basement of the family’s waterfront home in Baldwin, Long Island, New York, became flooded when the tide rose so high that water in the inlet behind their property rose above the lower deck of the house and began seeping into the foundation.
Saroop was on “Sandy watch” when the post-tropical cyclone made landfall Monday night. He said that at first, everything seemed fine but at 3 am on Tuesday, Saroop noticed the streets had disappeared under water. Within minutes, five feet of water covered the basement of his home.
Saroop shared his experiences with Newsday via messages sent on his behalf by his friend from Ozone Park, Queens, Tricia Quan Kep, because the cell towers in his area were so badly damaged that there is no “cell signal” in Baldwin, Long Island.
The Quan Keps braved the debris on several roads between Queens and Long Island Tuesday evening to make sure their friends were alright. They brought along a generator to Saroop’s home. This was a much-welcomed delivery, since the Saroop family was relying on candles, a couple battery-operated lamps and flashlights.
Once the clean-up efforts are completed, hopefully by the weekend, Saroop will have to turn his attention to dealing with his multiple insurance claims. That is another “headache” he said he will deal with when the time comes. For now, Saroop is beginning to move from a state of numbness to one of shock at just how much he has lost because of Sandy.
Although he lost important documents and mementos from his childhood in Marabella, as well as from his time as a student at Naparima College, San Fernando, Saroop said he was grateful that his family had been spared any physical damage during the tropical storm.
Yesterday, the New York Port Authority declared it was safe to resume limited service at JFK International Airport in Queens, New York, from noon. Caribbean Airlines Limited (CAL) subsequently issued a travel advisory to its customers, saying it would resume service to and from JFK yesterday “for passengers holding confirmed tickets for travel to or from JFK on the following flights at the times posted below:
BW015 departing Kingston, Jamaica at 8 am and arriving at JFK at 12.45pm;
BW014 departing JFK at 7.05 pm and arriving at Kingston at 9.55 pm yesterday and
BW421 departing JFK at 2.55 pm and arriving at Piarco International Airport at 7.50 pm yesterday.
CAL also said passengers originally scheduled to travel from JFK to Grenada on BW421 will now be accommodated on flight 421 to (Piarco) to connect with BW3442 departing Piarco at 9 pm and arriving in Grenada at 9.40 pm or on BW420 departing Piarco at 12 pm and arriving at JFK at 5.05 pm.
The New York Stock Exchange opened for business as usual yesterday and bus service has resumed. But New Yorkers trying to get back to their homes or offices found themselves caught in what was described by CNN news anchor Wolf Blitzer, last night, as “total gridlock” as the streets were jammed with taxis in the absence of subway service.
Post-Sandy clean-up included an ongoing assessment of drinking water safety and a number of tri-state communities were placed under boil-water advisories to minimise the spread of water-borne diseases.
Everyone across New York City, the northern suburbs, Long Island and New Jersey were urged to both preserve water and take extra precaution by boiling tap water, experts at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said.
And as New Yorkers struggled to clean-up and salvage their lives and properties, others were mourning the loss of loved ones as in New York alone, 19 persons are believed to have died as a direct result of Sandy.