Walk A Mile in Our Shoes puts pressure on Congress over Sandy relief

Posted at 12:38 AM, Jan 12, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-12 00:38:22-05

THE ROCKAWAYS (PIX11) — The tables of Ciro’s, a local pizzeria, have made for a makeshift meeting area as these people prepare their call for action.

Organizer Peter Corless told PIX 11: “People can be angry all they want but that doesn’t get you effective action. What we are looking to do to have Congress or any agency official come up here and see what needs to happen.”

The community event, aptly named Walk A Mile In Our Shoes, targets government leaders at the highest level.  Corless says the governors of the tri-state area originally asked Congress for a total of $83 billion in aid.  But the only package Congress is considering when it reconvenes next week is one worth roughly $60 billion (that includes the $9billion in FEMA flood insurance President Obama already signed off on two weeks ago).

“That’s 23 billion of aid that’s not going to come to any of these communities, they already shaved one out of four dollars from this package,” said Corless.

That is tough to take when you know the reality in the Rockaways nearly three months later.

“They are still without power, still without heat,” said Corless.

Valerie Close is one of those people.  She just got heat in her home two weeks ago but she still does not have hot water.  She and her husband have been literally living out a suitcase.

“It’s been pretty difficult. Just the instability of moving. I think we are probably counting eight different hotels now,” said Close.

She says she’s probably spent tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket.  Red tape with government agencies as well as loopholes with private insurance companies have been beyond frustrating.

“It feels like our cries are not being heard,” said Close shaking her head, which is why she wants you to walk a mile in her shoes.

The people in the pizzeria understand; as do the thousands of people in other hard-hit areas who have committed their own communities to participating in this walk.

“This is biblical, ‘not my will but thine be done.’  I mean, these communities want action,” said Corless.

The community walk idea originated on Facebook as an event for just the Rockaways but within a week expanded to nine other hard-hit communities, including Staten Island, Long Island and New Jersey.

All walks begin at 10am on Saturday, January 12th, except Coney Island which is on Sunday, January 13th.