Hurricane Sandy was classified as a Category 3 hurricane and categorized as the deadliest hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane season. Hurricane Maria was classified as a Category 5 hurricane and also regarded as the worst natural disaster to affect Dominica, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. FEMA also known as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, responds to these types of natural disasters and provides aid for those in need. I’m going to compare some similarities and differences between the two hurricanes and how FEMA responded to each.
I decided to interview one of my good friends Robin Christopher Santos. He used to live in the Far Rockaways up until Hurricane Sandy wrecked his home. Robin was just in the 8th grade at the time. He didn’t really understand the magnitude of a hurricane, to him it was just another rainstorm. It wasn’t until the storm hit, that Robin and his family would face the effects of Sandy. Interviewing Robin gave me an inside look from someone who was affected by a hurricane. This allowed me to compare and contrast Hurricane Sandy with 2017’s Hurricane Maria.
Something I noticed about the two hurricanes were the effects they had on the people who lived in the vicinity of the hurricane. In both cases, lives were lost, property was damaged, and power outages took place. In 2012, Robin and his family were living in an apartment, paying rent monthly. When Hurricane Sandy hit, their entire floor as well as many of their belongings were destroyed. “It was like something out of a movie… I couldn’t believe what I was experiencing. Everything my family had was gone within the hour”, Robin said. Victims of hurricane Maria had also suffered the same anguish. Their houses were destroyed, their loved ones lost, and their basic essentials to survive were scarce. Marta Rivera, a literal survivor of hurricane Maria, says “My home is at the bottom of a hill here in Arecibo. When the hurricane came there was a big wave and we had to be rescued from the home; it was destroyed”. Both were victims of each hurricane.
With similarities come differences. Though Sandy and Maria were both hurricanes, they each impacted their victims in different ways and with different levels of severity. Not only was that different, but the way FEMA and other aid/relief services responded to both events was different as well. Robin tells me about how he got his electricity back fairly quick, and how his landlord received aid checks from FEMA and was able to start fixing the damages. This greatly differs from how FEMA reacted to hurricane Maria. People in Puerto Rico didn’t have electricity for months and some for almost two years. According to an article by the New York Times, it was said that FEMA was sorely unprepared for Puerto Rico’s hurricane Maria. The writer Frances Robles, said “And when the killer storm did come, FEMA’s warehouse in Puerto Rico was nearly empty, its contents rushed to aid the United States Virgin Islands, which were hammered by another storm two weeks before. There was not a single tarpaulin or cot left in stock.” This just shows us how lagged the aid victims of Puerto Rico received was. People were without electricity, fresh food and water, improper shelter, the basic necessities of life and FEMA was lacking the necessary resources to help these people. FEMA exists for these types of situations and though they didn’t completely ignore Puetro Rico, I strongly feel like they could have done much more to help the victims.
After interviewing Robin and hearing his story, I realized how different FEMA acted towards both Hurricanes and the geographical places they affected. I also got an inside look and a better understanding of what victims of natural disasters go through. I also realized how many of the problems could have been avoided if FEMA was prepared. Personally I can’t even begin to imagine what it was like for Robin and survivors of natural disasters.