NEWS & VIEWS > THE OTHER ATLANTIC CITY

Disaster Relief Efforts Big Help to the 'Other Atlantic City'

By Turiya S. A. Raheem
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 1 | Posted Nov. 26, 2012

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ATLANTIC CITY, NEW JERSEY — I can’t imagine in war-torn parts of the world that people live like this every day, sometimes months, even years: crowded housing, electricity only a few hours a day, no hot water or no water at all, food shortages, no cars, little clothing and so forth.  

I know I sound like a spoiled American, but I’ve never taken these things for granted. I think I’m like most people. We’re simply used to so many conveniences, I guess we don’t realize how much we depend on them until they’re gone. 

The streets of the Other Atlantic City have been lined with people’s furniture, personal belongings, household items, drywall and insulation in the several weeks since Hurricane Sandy hit. 

As fast as city workers clear a street — and they’ve been doing a fantastic job — it’s filled up again in a day or two.  

FEMA even hired local residents to help out with the pick-up. One day, I saw at least 15 young people following Department of Public Works trucks because regular employees could not keep up with the amount of flood-damaged goods. 

Huge industrial dumpsters were placed in the middle of residential blocks for easy disposal of items; then, periodically, special trucks took everything away.  

The Red Cross has been distributing clean-up supplies, school supplies for children, water and, one day, I even saw a Red Cross truck delivering hot meals to anyone who wanted one.  

FEMA employees have been going door-to-door making sure people have much-needed information about where to go, who to call and what to do in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. No one could give me an exact figure, but I’ve seen FEMA employees all over the city, even in the library, where they told me they were seeking out people who have been displaced, because often they can’t find people once they’ve left their residences.

Speaking of residences, there are so many people now living with relatives, friends and neighbors, people are saying the extended family household is back to being the norm.

Our current recession and collapse of the housing market had already forced many people to move in with others, not unlike when our grandparents first came North seeking better employment, housing and educational opportunities. 

Our grandparents expected to live with relatives or family friends, however, until they could get on their feet. More recent generations are not used to this; everyone has his/her own place, own car, own this, own that. This may be one of the few good things to come out of a disaster — we are reminded how much we truly depend upon one another and how grateful we are, even for the little kindnesses of others.

INTERVIEW: 5 Questions with Turiya S.A. Raheem


Donations at Schools and Churches


Atlantic City's Texas Avenue School received so many donations of money, food, clothing and household items that they sent the surplus over to Our Lady Star of the Sea and Jethro Presbyterian.   

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1. Hassan #2 said... on Dec 4, 2012 at 05:46PM

“Sometimes we read these articles and don't really know the heart and soul of the author. In this article she talks about being grateful. I happen to know from nearly 20 years of being married to her that she is always reminding herself and others (especially our children when they were growing up) to be grateful.

I'll plug in a credit for myself. Photos by Hassan Abdur-Raheem. :-)”

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