“You are our angels” – Volunteers help rebuild Staten Islander homes devastated by Hurricane Ida

STATEN ISLAND, NY – For Staten Island residents whose homes suffered devastating damage from Hurricane Ida, the days continue to pass, but the stormy night is still fresh in their minds.

During a day of action on Saturday, a month and a day after Ida hit the borough on September 1, a number of local volunteer groups and organizations donated their time and resources. resources to help those affected.

“We haven’t stopped since the hurricane, not a weekend has we taken off,” said Farid Kader, executive director and founder of Yellow Boots, a group of volunteers helping the Staten Islanders recover. disasters.

The volunteers started pumping water from homes on the night of the hurricane, then helped with demolition and mold removal before embarking on what Kader called the “rebuilding” stage.

Yellow Boots, along with volunteers from ISACA, an international trade association focused on IT governance of which Kader is president of the New York Metro Chapter, participated in Saturday’s work on homes in Graniteville and Port Richmond. The groups also benefited from assistance from the Staten Island Long Term Recovery Organization (SILTRO) and Guyon Rescue.

Farid Kader, of Yellowboots, with Mike Trollo, Guyon Rescue and local volunteers on October 2, 2021. (Courtesy of Farid Kader)

In a house at 453-2 Willow Road East, which is part of Horizon Village Condominiums, Kader and three other volunteers were seen working in the basement, installing mold spray and encapsulant to prevent further damage. . Drywall would be put in place thereafter. He added that they had already carried out remediation work on neighboring houses.

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Local groups help repair homes damaged by Hurricane Ida (Staten Island Advance / David Luces)

“The unfortunate situation is that this house is connected to [the neighbor’s] on the other side, they use the same party wall, ”he said. “We could do that side, but if they don’t fix theirs, there could be potential impacts.”

Kader said on Saturday that the work fuels their soul.

“You hear these stories, you see these people choke on them saying they feel like they are alone and never thought that someone would help them,” he said. “Suddenly, people come to help them. It’s a great feeling to give back. “

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Local groups help repair homes damaged by Hurricane Ida (Staten Island Advance / David Luces)

Russell Armfield, who has lived at the home with his family for 19 years, was grateful for the work done.

“That’s good. I’m very glad they’re here. I heard about it from a friend who had done some work. I reached out to them. [Yellow Boots] via Facebook; Farid came back to me. I was so surprised, ”he said.

That same night, Kader showed up at Armfield’s home and gave him an assessment of his basement and told him he would be back.

“Indeed, today, they are here,” he added. “They have helped me a lot and the people in the community are so happy to have them – it’s a lot of work.”


Enid Earles and Carol Johnston sit outside their home, next to damaged personal items, as their home is repaired by volunteers. (Staten Island Advance / Rebeka Humbrecht)

Just around the corner, volunteers would later converge at 462 Caswell Ave., the home of Carol Johnston and Enid Earles, which was submerged in nearly four feet of water on the first floor, destroying a number of devices. and furniture.

“We are humble and grateful [for them]Earles said.

“These people are amazing. I said to Farid, “You are our angels,” Johnston added.

The duo said without the help of Yellow Boots and others they “would have been stuck”.


A volunteer tackles old parts of a wall so the team can reinstall new drywall in a house on Caswell Avenue. (Staten Island Advance / Rebeka Humbrecht)

“We don’t have any money coming in, the insurance company has rejected us. We [only] got a $ 2,000 offer from FEMA, which is absurd, ”said Johnston. “They [Yellow Boots] are a boon to us. We continue to thank them, but there are no words to express our gratitude to these people. “

As previously reported by Staten Island Advance / SiLive.com, residents have registered complaints about a clogged sump – which functions as the first line of defense for removing water from the street – at the bottom of the block.

The owners have expressed frustration with the city and local politicians.

“What they told us is that there is an infrastructure plan in place for the reconstruction of the sewers. It probably won’t happen in our lifetime, ”said Johnston.


Volunteers install a new door at a house on the 400 block of Caswell Avenue after the old one was damaged by Hurricane Ida. (Staten Island Advance / Rebeka Humbrecht)

Mike Trollo of Guyon Rescue was on hand to handle various jobs including electrical work, installation of drywall, interior insulation, additional exterior cladding and installation of heating boilers which were donated by LTRO, Guyon Rescue and Yellow Boots.

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Local groups help repair homes damaged by Hurricane Ida (Staten Island Advance / David Luces)

“Right now I’m increasing the electricity, so if there is flooding again, they won’t have a problem,” he said. “I replace the wires, the plugs, then I will replace the [drywall] outside. “

At 60 Derby Court in Port Richmond, volunteers worked hard to demolish a basement, use hammers to tear down damaged walls and remove water damaged items from the house. Eventually, drywall and new walls would be put in place.

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Local groups help repair homes damaged by Hurricane Ida Staten (Island Advance / David Luces)

Owner Kevin, armed with gloves and a mask, tried to help as much as possible.

He pointed to his fence, which showed a line of water almost halfway up the fence, to explain the extent of the storm’s wrath.

“My whole garden was flooded with water, then went down to my basement, [and] practically finished on the first step of the first floor [of the house], “he said.” It was a fully furnished basement and it just got completely flooded.

Like others, Kevin heard about local volunteer groups through “word of mouth”.

“We were lucky that they helped three other owners [in the area]. “We’ve been here for 24 years, we’ve never seen anything like it [Ida]. It’s great to have help. “

Most of his collection of books and other valuables that were in the basement were destroyed by the storm.

“At the end of the day, it’s great to have support, you know?” he said.

Kevin also expressed his frustration with the insurance situation.

“We pay premiums for our insurance, and I don’t think we’re getting what we’re paying for in full,” he said. “The presentation of the policy leads people to assume that they are covered for things for which they are not covered.”

Kader and Trollo both expressed the need for more funding and volunteers.

“The problem is that the volunteers don’t show up in the numbers in the past like they used to – like they did during Sandy,” Kader said.

With most federal resources going to Louisiana, groups had to find other ways to raise funds for needed supplies. ISACA donated $ 2,000 and Yellow Boots raised about $ 3,500, according to Kader, and SILTRO donated $ 2,750.

“If people want to volunteer, it would have the biggest impact. We need people and donations, and we’ll take care of the rest, ”Kader said.

Over the next few weeks, Kader said local groups will receive much-needed reinforcements from Southern Baptist Disaster Relief and Team Rubicon, as well as additional volunteers from the Midwest, Virginia and North Carolina.

Anyone wishing to volunteer or donate can visit yellowboots.org.

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