The Times West Virginian

Headline News

November 22, 2012

Sandy victims prepare for subdued Thanksgiving

NEW YORK — The things that Marge Gatti once cherished are lying on what’s left of her deck, spattered in mud, like a yard sale gone awry.

The white fur coat she bought for $80 at an auction. Family videos. A peach-colored glass creamer from England. Books she never got a chance to read.

The stuff is ruined, just like her sodden Staten Island home, which was ravaged by superstorm Sandy’s floodwaters and will be demolished in the coming weeks. Of all things material, Gatti has nothing.

And yet, on Thanksgiving Day, she will be counting her blessings.

“My sons are alive. They were trapped here,” said Gatti, 67, who lived in the beige home down the block from the Atlantic Ocean for 32 years. “I’m thankful that I have all my family. And that my friends are still here, you know? We’re all friends now. There’s no strangers in life anymore.”

It will be a subdued Thanksgiving for families hit hard by the storm as they gather with friends and strangers alike, seeking to celebrate the people and things that were spared when so much was lost. But they will not be left to fend for themselves.

Restaurants are donating meals, strangers and churches are opening their doors, and people from across the nation have sent an outpouring of donations for those unable to roast their own turkey.

New York City and Macy’s have set aside 5,000 bleacher seats along the Thanksgiving Day Parade route for families affected by Superstorm Sandy. Occupy Sandy, the storm-relief offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement, will host a Thanksgiving dinner in lower Manhattan.

Jennifer Kaufman of Washington Township, N.J., started a Facebook page called “A Place at the Table” that matches willing Thanksgiving hosts with families who have been displaced by Sandy.

“No one should eat alone on Thanksgiving,” Kaufman said.

In the Belle Harbor section of the Rockaways, Ray Marten is thankful his two teenage children are alive. At the height of the storm, he saw flames from burning homes dancing over the floodwaters. The three of them narrowly escaped just before the blaze engulfed their house. A neighbor in a scuba suit materialized out of the darkness and towed Marten’s 13-year-old daughter to safety on a surfboard.

A restaurant in New Jersey is donating a catered Thanksgiving dinner for his family and other displaced relatives at his mother’s overcrowded Brooklyn home, where they are staying. His wife’s sister lost her home in the post-storm fire that destroyed more than 100 houses in the city’s Breezy Point section.

“We won’t be sitting at a dining room table. We’ll be eating off of paper plates,” said his wife, Linda. “But at least we’ll be together.”

The kitchen stove is still caked in mud at the mildewed Staten Island home of Amin and Rachael Alhadad, who have been running a borrowed generator for a few hours every night to keep themselves and their four children warm. In the living room, a dark line marks where the water rose almost to the ceiling. Their furniture consists of a couple of donated wicker chairs and a bench draped with Red Cross blankets and towels.

The Alhadads say they have nowhere else to go, no family or friends to rely on. And they refuse to live in a shelter.

“They keep asking, ‘Are we going to have turkey?”’ said Rachael Alhadad, indicating her sons, ages 14 and 15, who were playing restlessly on their smartphones. “Nope. We can’t.”

For Marge Gatti, who has blisters on her lips brought on by anxiety, the kindness of strangers has been almost too much to handle. There was the Australian man who raised $35,000 and handed out gift packages on the street from a U-Haul truck. An elderly rich man pulled up in a black Mercedes and peeled off $100 bills for everybody on the block. Dozens of girls cleaned debris off her front lawn.

“The caring was really from here,” she said, putting a hand over her heart.

Her younger son has invited the entire block over for Thanksgiving dinner at his house. But the Gatti family will not be completely reunited for the holiday. Her oldest son, Anthony, has been sleeping in a tent that he pitched among the ruins on the front lawn of the house where he grew up.

“I’m going to stay here and protect what we have left,” he said, his eyes filling with tears. “Which isn’t much. But it’s still ours.”

1
Text Only
Headline News
  • Boston Marathon organizers confident of safe race

    The arrest of a man with a rice cooker in his backpack near the Boston Marathon finish line led police to step up patrols Wednesday, while organizers sought to assure the city and runners of a safe race next week.
    The actions of the man, whose mother said he had a mental disorder, rattled nerves as Boston prepared for the annual race, but authorities said they did not consider it a security breach.

    April 17, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 12.51.22 PM.png VIDEO: Toddler climbs into vending machine

    A child is safe after climbing into and getting stuck inside a claw crane machine at a Lincoln, Neb., bowling alley Monday.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Solemn tributes mark Boston Marathon bombing anniversary

    Survivors, first responders and relatives of those killed in the Boston Marathon bombing marked the anniversary Tuesday with tributes that combined sorrow over the loss of innocent victims with pride over the city’s resilience in the face of a terror attack.

    April 16, 2014

  • Questions linger year after Boston Marathon bombs

    A surveillance video shows a man prosecutors say is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev placing a bomb near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, just yards from where an 8-year-old boy was killed when it exploded.

    April 15, 2014

  • Little sign of progress as Obama, Putin speak

    Speaking for the first time in more than two weeks, President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin showed little sign of agreement Monday, with the U.S. leader urging pro-Russian forces to de-escalate the situation in eastern Ukraine and Putin denying that Moscow was interfering in the region.

    April 15, 2014

  • 3 dead after suburban Kansas City shooting

    A man opened fire outside a Jewish community center on Sunday, killing two people before driving over to a retirement community a few blocks away and killing someone else, authorities said.

    April 14, 2014

  • Couple: Truck was on fire before deadly bus crash

    A couple said a FedEx tractor-trailer was already on fire when it careened across a median, sideswiped their car and slammed into a bus carrying high school students, adding a new twist to the investigation of a crash that killed 10 people.
    Initial reports by police indicated the truck swerved to avoid a sedan that was traveling in the same direction in this town about 100 miles north of Sacramento, then went across the median. There was no mention of the truck being on fire.

    April 13, 2014

  • ‘Obamacare’ under attack as conservatives eye 2016

    Republicans eyeing the 2016 White House race battered President Barack Obama’s health care law and nicked each other Saturday, auditioning before a high-profile gathering of conservatives that some political veterans said marked the campaign’s unofficial start.

    April 13, 2014

  • Finance officials: Global economy turns the corner

    The world’s top finance officials expressed confidence Saturday that the global economy finally has turned the corner to stronger growth. This time, they may be right.
    Despite challenges that include market jitters about the Federal Reserve’s bond-buying slowdown and global tensions over Ukraine, policymakers said they believe there is a foundation for sustained growth that can provide jobs for the millions of people still looking for work five years after the worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

    April 13, 2014

  • There’s a new ‘face,’ but old problems for health care law

    Abruptly on the spot as the new face of “Obamacare,” Sylvia Mathews Burwell faces steep challenges, both logistical and political.
    Burwell, until now White House budget director, was named by President Barack Obama on Friday to replace Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who oversaw the messy rollout of the health care overhaul.

    April 12, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads