Photo 1: SANDY’S FURY – Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. (extreme right) with Defense and Armed Forces Attaché Brig. Gen. Cesar Yano (center) and Police Attaché Chief Supt. Armand Ramolete inspect a vehicle parked near the Philippine Embassy that was crushed by a tree felled by strong winds on Monday (Oct. 29) evening as they assessed the extent of the damage left by Hurricane Sandy in Washington D.C.
Photo 2: ASSESSING SANDY’S DAMAGE – Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. with Defense and Armed Forces Attaché Brig. Gen. Cesar Yano and Police Attaché Chief Supt. Armand Ramolete assess the extent of the damage made by Hurricane Sandy in Washington D.C. This tree near the Philippine Embassy was uprooted by strong winds that swept through the US capital shortly after Sandy made landfall on Monday (Oct. 29) evening.
Photo 3: SWOLLEN POTOMAC – Defense and Armed Forces Attaché Brig. Gen. Cesar Yano (right) and Police Attaché Chief Supt. Armand Ramolete check Monday (Oct. 29) the water level at the Potomac River as part of their assessment of the extent of the damage made by Hurricane Sandy in Washington D.C. ( jGLi/Philippine Embassy Photo by Elmer G. Cato )
By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA (email@example.com)
(© 2012 Journal Group Link International)
An undetermined number of homes of the Filipino American community in the East Coast were abandoned following the landfall at 8 p.m. Monday (Oct. 29) of super storm Hurricane Sandy that left 46 people dead and initial damages placed at $10 billion, according the Chicago, Illinois Philippine Consul General Leo M. Herrera-Lim.
Quoting First Secretary and Consul Elmer G. Cato, press attaché of the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C., Consul General Herrera-Lim said so far there are “no Filipino casualties.”
In a statement released by the Philippine Embassy, Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. said that although Sandy has weakened, it still continues to bring rains and strong winds that could pose serious threats to populated areas while it heads towards Canada in the next couple of days.
“Sandy is a disaster still ongoing,” Ambassador Cuisia said as he appealed to the Filipino Community to make sure that none of the estimated 460,000 Filipinos in the East Coast will end up in the casualty count that stands at 46 dead.
“We would like to remind our kababayans (Filipino compatriots), particularly those in New Jersey and New York, to remain in their homes until such time that authorities say that it is safe for them to venture out,” Ambassador Cuisia said, warning that affected populations face risks from floodwaters and downed trees and power lines.
He said members of the Filipino community in the affected areas should wait until basic services such as power and transport have been restored before leaving the safety of their homes.
Consul General Mario L. de Leon of the Philippine Consulate in New York said reports from the leaders of the Filipino community also indicate that a large number of Filipinos are among the 8.5 million people in 13 states who are currently without electricity.
He said there are also reports that several Filipinos sustained some damage to their homes in Nassau and Queens counties in New York as well as in Hamden and Stamford in Connecticut as a result of violent winds and storm surges.
NO INTERNET, TELEPHONE OR CELLULAR PHONE CONNECTIVITIES
Some of friends of this reporter, namely, Ricky Rillera of Philippine Daily Mirror in New York, Ernie Gange of Bensalem, Pennsylvania and an officer of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA), and Manny Chua of North Carolina have not responded to email messages, seeking feedbacks on situations.
Consul General De Leon said some Filipinos in Connecticut and Long Island were also reported to be running low on potable water while many others in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut have no Internet, telephone or cellular phone connectivity.
The Embassy and the Consulate General in New York continue to monitor the situation on a 24-hour-basis and have placed teams on standby to assist Filipinos who may have been caught in the middle of the storm. The two posts also remain in touch with leaders of the Filipino community in the affected areas to check on the situation of Filipinos there.
Consul General Herrera-Lim has also started alerting the Filipino Community in Ohio and Michigan and urged them to make the necessary preparations as the storm continues to move towards the Great Lakes region and Canada.
The Embassy said that unlike New York and New Jersey, Washington appeared to have been spared from the violent effects of Sandy and operations in the US capital are expected to resume on Wednesday after a suspension of two days. The situation in New York is expected to normalize only after several days.
Consul Cato said as Hurricane Sandy hit land near Cape May in Southern New Jersey and was hovering near Philadelphia with hurricane-strong winds, 15 of the 46 fatalities were reported killed “due mostly to falling trees and flying debris.”
Areas and states affected by the mega storm were Virginia, District of Columbia, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Maine and Ohio.
NEW YORK SUBWAY SUBMERGED
Filipino community forced to abandon their homes were in Atlantic City, Jersey City, New Milford and Keansburg in New Jersey and in Inwood, Long Island, New York.
Waves reaching 32.5 feet in New York harbor caused floodwaters that paralyzed New York City and submerged New York subway system that moves 4.8-million passengers in each weekday.
Twenty-four homes were being consumed by fire that earlier razed 50 other houses in Rockaway, Queens, in New York.
Two Manhattan hospitals, believed to have Filipino nursing staff, have been evacuated due to power outages. These are New York University’s Langone Medical Center and Bellevue Hospital Center.
Rescue operations are also ongoing for more than a thousand residents following a dam break in Bergen County in New Jersey.
Mr. Cato told this reporter that the priority of the Embassy and Consulate’s help would be on Filipino tourists and businessmen, who are stranded in their locations.
They might not be able to extend help to American citizens, like Filipino American natives in Louisiana, who lost their homes during the recent Hurricane Isaac.
Rhonda Lee Richoux, of St. Bernard, Louisiana, 6th and 9th generation member of the original Filipino settlers in Louisiana, wrote Marilyn Doromal, officer of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations in Region 4, and this reporter that during the Hurricane Isaac last Aug. 28, her “mobile home and everything in it was destroyed. People have been kind, and have provided me with a winter wardrobe just in time for the cool weather. A friend opened her pool house up to me and my two cats. The feral cats that I was feeding were all killed in the flood, except for one kitten that found her way to the porch of the house (ten feet up).
“She has been tamed and adopted by my step daughter and her family. The house on the property, where my ex husband, stepson and his family live, got three inches of water in it even though it was raised ten feet off the ground.”
Ms. Doromal, who was inviting Ms. Richoux (pronounced “Re-Shoe”) to a NaFFAA symposium, consoled Ms. Richoux, saying she has contacted the Atlanta Consular Office and the constituents in my region for her predicament.” Ms. Richoux added as a result of Hurricane Isaac, “Finances may be a hindrance to my attendance. I will have to see how quickly I get back on track before I can confirm participation. I wanted to let you know that I am interested, though!
“Please keep me updated on news of the symposium, and ask any questions you think can be answered in my presentation, should I come. Thank you again for thinking of me!”