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Pummeled by Superstorm Sandy, millions face fear, uncertainty in region rocked by calamity

By Starla Muhammad -Staff Writer- | Last updated: Nov 13, 2012 - 11:25:16 AM

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Super storm Sandy’s deadly assault upends lives, destroys businesses and will have lasting impact, say stunned offificials

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Weather-related and natural disasters leading up to Hurricane Sandy afflicted the U.S. but did not garner as much media attention. A 7.7 magnitude earthquake struck the Charlotte Islands off the west coast of Canada, Oct. 27 generating a tsunami warning for Hawaii. A 4.0 earthquake hit Maine, Oct. 16 which was also felt in Connecticut and Rhode Island, according to the Associated Press. Meanwhile over 60 percent of the contiguous U.S. is in the midst of a moderate to exceptional drought, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“Did you hear me say a few years ago to watch the weather, the distress would come, the fall of your dollar, the weakness of your economy – this is what the Honorable Elijah Muhammad has said, and this is what his faithful minister has said!”   – Minister Louis Farrakhan, October 14, 2012, Holy Day of Atonement, 17th Anniversary of the Million Man March in Charlotte, N.C.

(FinalCall.com) - While over 1.5 million people were still without power, tens of thousands remain homeless, gasoline is being rationed, high levels of frustration and accusations that government agencies are not responding fast enough in poor areas are just a few of the after-effects of Superstorm Sandy, the nearly 900-mile wide extreme weather front that pummeled the Northeast of the United States during the last two days of October.

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Julie Traina tries to recover some personal items from the destroyed home of her parents in Staten Island, N.Y., Nov. 2. Mayor Michael Bloomberg came under fire for pressing ahead with the New York City Marathon. Some New Yorkers say holding the 26.2-mile race would be insensitive and divert police and other important resources when many are still suffering from Superstorm Sandy. The Marathon was ultimately cancelled. Photo: AP Wide World Photos/Seth Wenig

If that was not enough, a small 2.0 magnitude earthquake was felt in several New Jersey towns during the wee hours of Nov. 5 and to top it all off, meteorologists were eying a developing nor’easter winter storm forecast to travel north, bringing more rain, snow, 10 to 20 foot high waves and wind gusts upward to 50 miles per hour to areas of New York and New Jersey Nov. 6 or 7. Temperatures are already dropping, leaving residents suffering in the cold.

At Final Call presstime, 179 storm-related deaths were reported, with 110 in the U.S. alone. As recovery efforts continue, those numbers are expected to rise as rescue and recover workers continue searching through muck and debris.

“This storm is the biggest storm this state has ever seen. The challenges that came with it are also the biggest we have ever faced,” New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, whose state was befallen with extensive damage, said via Twitter.

Early estimates say the cost associated with the aftermath of the deadly storm could be upwards of $50 billion to $60 billion, making it one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history.

Tempers were flaring as residents of areas hardest hit in New York and New Jersey awaited help from the local, state and federal government.

Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) in speaking to CNN Nov. 1 said though some help has come to residents in the Rockaways, located in Queens, there is still desperation for residents most of whom already live below the poverty line.

“It is very bad. People felt neglected … you have a number of public housing developments. No power. Young children, cold, don’t know what tomorrow’s going to bring and no food because they’re isolated, you know they’re on a peninsula that has no train service anymore, that there’s no gasoline and there’s no place to go and so they have not ate literally. They didn’t have anything to eat for the last three or four days,” said Rep. Meeks, whose district encompasses the Rockaways.

Rep. Meeks said the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had begun delivering food but power was still out.

Recovery and clean-up efforts continue, but many are left wondering what is next or where to go from here.

“Overwhelming,” “catastrophic” and “apocalyptic” are just a few of the terms used to describe the mayhem that hit Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Ohio, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Rhode Island with residual effects felt in Indiana and Illinois.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin of West Virginia was expected to request a federal disaster declaration according to the state website.

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Residents of Breezy Point ride a truck carrying them away from the damage caused by a fi re during Superstorm Sandy Oct. 31, in New York. The huge blaze destroyed perhaps 100 homes in the close-knit community where many had stayed behind despite being told to evacuate. Photo: AP Wide World Photos/Frank Franklin II
Abdul Hafeez Muhammad, student minister of Muhammad Mosque No. 7 in New York City, lives in Long Island which did not get a lot of rain but experienced “fierce” winds.

“The winds cracked trees from their foundations and threw them in roads and on sheds, backyards and on top of houses. That’s what I witnessed with my own eyes. It blew the paneling out of fences, took siding off your home and so that’s what we’ve been dealing with,” Mr. Hafeez Muhammad told The Final Call, 48 hours after the storm struck.

More than $158 million in assistance has been approved for disaster survivors according to a Nov. 4 announcement from FEMA for residents in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.

“Disaster Recovery Centers continue to open in the hardest hit areas. Seven Disaster Recovery Centers are open in New York, two in New Jersey and three in Connecticut and more continue to open,” said the statement.

Nearly 50,000 residents of New Jersey alone have requested help from FEMA and between 30,000 and 40,000 residents of New York need housing in what Governor Andrew Cuomo called a “massive housing problem.”

According to the American Red Cross, nearly 11,000 people were continuing to seek refuge in 123 shelters in nine states on Nov. 3.

Gov. Christie ordered a “gas rationing” system in 12 counties permitting motorists to get gas every other day to alleviate miles-long waits for gas at stations with dwindling resources.

New York City was losing up to $18 million a day because of the storm with businesses and other industries shut down, said Student Minister Hafeez Muhammad. There is economics tied to this that is breaking America’s back as well as social and spiritual realities, said the Nation of Islam student minister.

“That begins to add up. And the cost of the repairs and even with FEMA coming in and the federal government and the president doing its part, remember, America is bankrupt and broke and as the Minister (Farrakhan) said the other day, they’re going to print paper, so then where is the money coming from?” Mr. Hafeez Muhammad asked rhetorically.

Critical times just beginning

It is still a very dangerous situation, said Aurelia Muhammad, director of the Millions More Movement Disaster Management Program. The infrastructure damage to bridges, tunnels and roads from the salt water is concerning, she explained.

“Nineteen states were affected so that’s a third of the United States, something else people aren’t looking at. Remember, when they said when it was eight million people out of power?” said Aurelia Muhammad, referring to the time period during the first one or two days after the storm struck.

“That’s eight million meters. So if you have a project (apartment) say that has 5,000 people, they’re only counting that as one meter. So really, we’re looking at maybe 20 million without power … those of us in the field, we know the difference within emergency management. The preparedness, we should have done that after Katrina,” said Aurelia Muhammad, who has trained organizations and groups nationwide in disaster management.

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Cars damaged by Superstorm Sandy are surrounded by storm debris in Coney Island, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012 in New York. Photo: AP Wide World Photos/Mark Lennihan
FEMA is not a response organization; they only coordinate with other agencies, she added.

There are other problems that are also being overlooked, warned Aurelia Muhammad who noted there are five nuclear reactors in New York. Although reports said three were forced to close there were no major problems reported.

There was a report about a possible gas spill or leak, she said.

“They’re downplaying that. They’re not out the woods. It’s just beginning. You also have a lot of rats in the tunnels. Rats bring plague, diseases just from their droppings, just from their urine. So people who haven’t eaten, it’s getting cold, you have a low immune system now the sickness is going to set in. All the oil and gas and all the toxins from the cars that’s been washed up,” she pointed out.

Prophetic voices warn of coming disasters

Weather-related and natural disasters leading up to Hurricane Sandy afflicted the U.S. but did not garner as much media attention. A 7.7 magnitude earthquake struck the Charlotte Islands off the west coast of Canada, Oct. 27 generating a tsunami warning for Hawaii. A 4.0 earthquake hit Maine, Oct. 16 which was also felt in Connecticut and Rhode Island, according to the Associated Press. Meanwhile over 60 percent of the contiguous U.S. is in the midst of a moderate to exceptional drought, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“Last year when we had (Hurricane) Irene it hit New York state heavy, then spread far and wide. This year, Sandy hit South Jersey and then spread far and wide. So the Atlantic City area, Little Ferry, all of that is just tore up. The Boardwalk is tore up. There’s no more Boardwalk in Atlantic City. It’s gone,” said Abdul Hafeez Muhammad.

Like his teacher, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Minister Farrakhan has repeatedly warned not only America but the world of major calamities that will only increase. While scientists and others point the finger at global warming, others see a more divine reason.

“It has been and is the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan who has been warning America of God’s wrath and kindling His anger and that He would be bringing America to her knees through the forces of the four great judgments: rain, hail, snow and earthquakes. So this is real,” said Abdul Hafeez Muhammad.

While thousands were unprepared, Student Minister Hafeez Muhammad said many members of the Nation of Islam in his area, adhering to the Minister’s guidance about disaster preparedness, had two-way radios, Sterno to heat food, flashlights, lanterns and other necessary items.

“Governor Cuomo said these words I mean it was as if he listened to Minister Farrakhan. He may very well have. Governor Cuomo said I pray for it not to happen but I believe it’s going to happen again and then he said it again, I pray for it not to happen again, but I know it’s going to happen again. So from believe to knowing in the same breath,” said Student Minister Hafeez Muhammad.

In 2011, a record breaking 242 disasters were declared in the U.S., Min. Farrakhan pointed out during his Holy Day of Atonement address, delivered less than three weeks before the storm hit the U.S.

“After 2011, which has the record of disasters, I said again, watch the weather, because God doesn’t fight with your cheap ‘weapons!’ God fights with the forces of nature: rain, hail, snow, wind and drought! He uses the insects and the animals, and turns nature against you!” warned Min. Farrakhan.

“You can’t win in a war against God! But keep on going; you’ll understand it better not ‘by and by,’ but very soon! So after repeated warnings that go unheeded, the problem is getting worse for America. The Qur’an says, whenever Allah sends you a messenger, then He seizes the people with distress and affliction …” not to “destroy them,” but that they might humble themselves to a Messenger that comes to them from among the meanest of the people, the Minister continued.

“If we just look at the distress and affliction that America is under as we speak: The distress is a result of how you’ve handled the warning from the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and his faithful minister to you.”

For more information on how to prepare and manage during natural disasters or emergencies visit www.mmmdisastermanagement.com.

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