Staten Island tent city damaged by fierce winds

Posted at 11:05 PM, Jan 31, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-31 23:05:21-05

Staten Island, NY – Still fighting the whipping winds, volunteers spent much of Thursday night, rebuilding the roof of the tent ripped apart by high winds.

Original tent city organizer Donna Graziano thinks the wind gusts got up to 60 miles per hour just before the tent came crashing down.

With no food or shelter, Graziano said, “All day long I had to turn people away.”

That is something she hasn’t done in the three months she has been set up here.  She normally serves nearly 100 people a day, mostly storm victims from the Hard-hit neighborhood of New Dorp Beach.  PIX 11 just visited a few weeks ago and you can see the tent was full of regulars… From elderly couples to full on families.  All of them getting free food while spending time in a warm place away from the cold.

“There is still people here with no electricity, no heat, nowhere to cook a meal, no kitchen,” said Nicole Chati who comes to Cedar Grove’s tent city with her daughter every day.  “It’s a complete lifeline. And now the lifeline is pretty much shattered.  This was the last thing we needed.”

What Graziano says she needs is a tent like the ones Senator Andrew Lanza set up as a relief center in a marina parking lot. “But there’s no one there.  Meanwhile, I have a relief center that tons of people come by every day,” said Graziano.

That has struggling storm victims like Nicole frustrated beyond belief.

“I’m just waiting for our politicians to step up, when are you going to step up?” asked Chati.

PIX 11 News tried to contact local politicians for help.

Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis got back to us and says she is working on gathering the funds to buy a new tent.  She bought of two of the tents for them in the beginning.