By: Portlight, 11:51 PM GMT on November 20, 2012
There's an article from AM New York today that has all of us at Portlight riled up and ready to go to bat once again for people forgotten by local authorities and other organizations when it comes to disaster preparation and relief.
(Please read the entire article here: AM New York)
Each of the stories in this article raises our ire, and gives us renewed energy to continue Portlight's mission. But this one in particular LIT A FIRE UNDER US:
'Crippled in a shooting two years ago, 39-year-old Kenneth Martinez said he never imagined he might die by remaining in his Far Rockaway apartment during Sandy, but insisted he would have left if he were offered a place to stay that could accommodate his motorized wheelchair.
"I knew the storm was coming, but where was I going to go?" he said.
After the lights flickered out, Martinez managed to find a flashlight, but the tide that rushed into his home was ravenous. Filthy, freezing, turbulent water surged up his one leg, then gobbled up his torso. He managed to make a call to his partner, Michelle Medina, pleading for help, but his phone died in the middle of his description of the rising waters.
Medina, who was on Long Island, repeatedly dialed 911 but the three-digit number rang busy or went dead. Then she called 311. Operators there said they'd pass on the information to have Martinez evacuated. Medina also called relatives in NYC begging them to call 311, too, to stress how urgently Martinez needed help.
While his wheelchair remained in the living room, "the water floated me up to the kitchen." He struggled to stay afloat in the rising waters by windmilling his arms. Martinez began banging desperately on the ceiling - now within his reach - with his flashlight.
Hearing the knocks, his upstairs neighbor, Chris Francis, and two other men bashed out a window and rescued him..
"Those good guys upstairs risked their lives to save me," Martinez gratefully recounted. The trio carried Martinez upstairs to a vacant apartment, where he spent two nights swathed in insulation plastic to keep warm, before Medina could return to take him to her mother's house in Levittown. Medina and Martinez, who have two daughters, lost everything they owned. His new $27,000 prosthetic leg was swept away in the receding waters, but the loss most sorely felt for Martinez is his motorized wheelchair, which remains in the apartment but is unsalvageable. "I feel like I'm trapped," said Martinez, who is now facing a frustrating series of bureaucratic hurdles to replace it. "That wheelchair was my legs."'
Portlight is launching a full-on fundraising PUSH to get this man a new power chair AND do whatever we can to see to it that his prosthetic leg is replaced at no cost to him. We know that times are tough, that the holidays are right around the corner, and that a great many of you have already given all you can afford to give. If you're unable to contribute in a monetary way, we ask that you help us get the word out to everyone you know!! As always, thank you so very much for your support of our efforts!!
Updated: 11:59 PM GMT on November 20, 2012
By: Portlight, 5:29 AM GMT on November 12, 2012
Coney Island Relief Efforts
In our ongoing efforts to help bring relief to forgotten communities, and particularly to people with disabilities and other health and medical issues, we’ve partnered up with People’s Relief, a grassroots coalition bringing together independent volunteers and groups working to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy. They are currently working in Coney Island, where the needs are far greater than the media is reporting. One of our goals is to bring much needed media scrutiny to the area. We’ll also be helping with medical equipment and supplies, social media networking, and administrative tasks.
We are working night and day to help improve the situation in Coney Island. There are still so many people stranded, without power, water and/or food; missing vital medical treatments like dialysis and chemotherapy; without medications. The situation is dire and in many cases, one of absolute life or death.
***UPDATE*** Brooklyn-based photojournalist Syd London has been following the volunteers of People's Relief, documenting relief efforts and the situation in Coney Island. Please check out her Flikr photo album, Sandy: Coney Island Relief.
Your help is desperately needed! Please give what you can and spread the word! We’ll keep you updated regularly on how your donations are helping to restore the residents of Coney Island. As always, thank you for your continued support!!
Updated: 8:45 PM GMT on November 17, 2012