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Vol. 75/No. 32      September 12, 2011

‘No one even knocked on our door,’
says Brooklyn worker
BROOKLYN, N.Y.—As the winds from Hurricane Irene were claming, Militant reporters talked to working people in Sheepshead Bay and Brighton Beach, areas in Brooklyn that Mayor Michael Bloomberg had ordered evacuated.

While the evacuation order said people in low-lying areas had to be out by 5 p.m. Saturday, public transit was shut down at noon. “If you wait, you’ll be on your own,” Bloomberg said.

Like many in the area, Armand Poghosyan, from Brighton Beach, stayed through the storm. “It was no big deal,” he said. “I live in the first building from the ocean. There was supposedly a mandatory evacuation. But no one came by and knocked on our door to talk to us. You had to find out on the news.” Residents also received automated phone calls telling them to leave.

“Anyway,” he added. “I don’t trust the government to tell us the truth. There was a lot of exaggeration.”

On Saturday evening, hours before the storm’s arrival, Poghosyan went outside. “A cop stopped me,” he reports. “When I told him I was going to my friend’s house that was on higher ground, he said, ‘You should have thought of that earlier.’ He said if I didn’t go back in, he would give me a $500 ticket.”

One of Poghosyan’s friends, Jonathan Eirushevich, a Kingsborough Community College student, said he also received a call from the school on his cell phone encouraging him to leave. Eirushevich noted that in his neighborhood cops didn’t enforce the 5 p.m. deadline and people were out walking their dogs until evening.

Many residents spent a lot of money on emergency supplies, sand bags, and other material to protect their residences or on transportation and hotels.

“We left on Saturday morning and took the train to a friend’s house,” Mustaffer Ada, 18, from Sheepshead Bay, told the Militant. “But there were no subways today to get home, so we had to pay for a car service. They charged $30, way more than usual.”

Another Sheepshead Bay resident who declined to give his name said that sand bags needed to protect his first floor apartment cost $6.50 each. No materials were provided by the city

Luis Velez woke up at 5:00 a.m. Sunday to rising water in his basement apartment because of a backed-up drain near the house. Construction worker Pedro Beltrán was helping him when a Militant reporter stopped by. “Everybody’s left to clean up on their own,” Beltrán said. “Just like people had to figure out how to evacuate on their own. The city could’ve had buses lined up.”

Rolland Turner, a disabled worker from Coney Island, and her kids were part of a smaller number of working people who opted to go to public schools set up as shelters. Interviewed as she was leaving the shelter, bags in hand, Turner said she had her own car and was able to return home as soon as city officials gave the okay. But one family of 12, she said, had to stay another night because there was still no public transit to their home in Coney Island.

Ada, who works at a Kmart, said he was told he would be paid for the hours he lost due to the storm. But Cody Demaria, who works at McDonald’s, is not getting paid for the 16 hours he lost. “I got an IOU from Irene,” Demaria said.
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The true face of capitalism
‘You’re on your own,’ NY mayor tells workers during storm  
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