My heart is heavy this holiday season. As you probably heard, Staten Island was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. Two very dear friends of mine lost their home. They are both Deaf.
These two, beautiful, hard working people had done all the right things. Their house was paid off. They had home-owner's insurance. They had flood insurance.
They lived near the ocean, so when the storm hit, a 45 foot wave swept over their neighborhood, and lifted their house off the foundation. The area looks like a war zone. Their house is slated for demolition. In the days that followed, we went to the house and pulled out as much as we could from the house: basically clothes, important papers and photos. Only things on the second floor could be saved. The first floor had 5 feet of water in it. They are staying with me till the end of the semester, then going Florida to see if they can find a place to live that they can afford. We had heard that FEMA was giving up to 30,000 to help people rebuild their lives. FEMA turned them down because they had flood insurance. Flood insurance offered them 10,000 for the house and 5,000 for the contents of the house. Home-owners insurance turned them down. They don't cover floods.
To make matters worse, because they are deaf, every time they need to inquire about what to do next, they have to find an interpreter to go with them. So far, except for the big Town hall meeting, no interpreters have been provided for them. The American's with Disabilities Act, passed in the 90s requires that deaf people be provided with interpreters, but still, after all these years, people ignore the law. So, their insurance company won't help them, the government won't help them, it is clear that we, the people, are the only ones left.
- Kat & Collie DAVITON-BURLAND
- Eileen Forestal
- Dianne Nemitz
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