Russia’s humanitarian aid for Hurricane Sandy victims is being distributed in NYC now, Voice of Russia correspondent Vasily Sushko reports. Two Russian airplanes delivered 20,000 blankets early Wednesday morning to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, which were accepted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
In the heart of Far Rockaway, a community in Southern Queens that was severely affected by Hurricane Sandy, a large patch of blankets was distributed to those who are trying to escape the cold during a time when most of the community is without heat or electricity.
The blankets were part of the Russian aid mission to help in the humanitarian assistance of Sandy survivors. They were flown into the US earlier this week by Russia’s own Emergency Ministry.
The Voice of Russia witnessed the first blankets being distributed this past Saturday at the United Methodist Church in Far Rockaway where volunteers, like Rev. Joseph Ewoodzie, lent a hand in handing them out.
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“Right after the Hurricane Sandy came a very strong Nor’easter that brought snow and dropped a lot more of the electricity. So, people are really in need. This area has a lot of homeless, and I guess you imagine the homeless without the little warmth they have. So, these blankets which gone a long way at least provide a little comfort to those who need them.”
While most of New Yorkers who lost electricity have gotten a blanket – that is not to say that the worst hit areas aren’t in complete disarray. With tens of thousands of residents in New York City and Long Island now without power for nearly three weeks life has gotten extremely difficult for many New Yorkers.
Maria Vincent – a Rockaway resident and a recipient of the Russian donated blanket explains:
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“We are going on almost a month and until now we still do not have complete power in this area. Especially, as you know, we are by the beach, so – if you are more inland it is a little bit warmer. But it is still terrible out here.”
It was the worst storm to hit the area in decades and the result was catastrophic. Communities, like Breezy Point, were literally engulfed by a 14-foot surge which also managed to knock out electricity to hundreds of thousands of customers in the area.
After nearly three weeks power has been restored to many but not residents in communities like Breezy Point, Far Rockaway or Long Beach. Residents there have been facing the cold temperatures without any heat or electricity.
In Rockaway residents like Vincent were thankful to receive a little bit of relief.
“Thank you, to the whole Russian Government, I mean that’s amazing. You are actually saving lives because I know some people that actually had a bronchitis and pneumonia because they weren’t staying warm. Believe it or not, you might think that – oh, we just donated blankets – but those blankets may actually save a lot of people’s lives.”
The United Methodist Center in Far Rockaway distributed nearly 2000 blankets on Saturday. Rev. Ewoodzie said it only took a few hours for all of them to be gone. With the high demand Ewoodzie said that on Sunday the church plans to distribute another 2000.
Along with the United Methodist Church the organizations like the Salvation Army and AmeriCorps are assisting in distributing the blankets to residents in areas hardest hit by the storm.