News / USA

    Storm Brings Ruin to NYC Family

    Carolyn Weaver
    Maria Gonzalez, 17, and her family have lived in Brooklyn since emigrating from Mexico when she was only four.  Her younger brothers, Jerry, 10, and Junior, five, were born here.  For years, they have rented a windowless basement apartment in a rundown house near the Gowanus Canal, one of the most hazardous polluted sites in the United States.

    When the hurricane blew through Monday, it flooded the family's apartment a meter deep, with water from the overflowing canal. The family had piled its beds and couch on top of tables and chairs, but it wasn't high enough. The water filled the apartment.  Even the refrigerator had fallen over and was floating in the living room.  Junior started crying when he saw his book bag was ruined.

    "We knew the water would come in, because even in casual rains, it comes in here.  But we didn't think it would be so bad to ruin everything we had," Maria said.

    "We took outside yesterday, all the mattresses, because everything got ruined.  You can come into my room to see how bad it is.  The TV got ruined.  Everything's wet."

    She points at a cupboard on the wall.  "I had this filled with books, and it fell apart.  I had to throw all my schoolbooks and all my textbooks in the garbage because they were all soaked.  They're all like this.  You can't even open it, turn the pages or anything."

    But the fish tank, filled with pristine water for the family's tropical fish, made it through. They're a note of incongruous color in the devastated apartment, like the cheerful paintings and photographs on the walls.

    "We were so worried about them, because we didn't know how high the water was, and we didn't know if they were swimming alone in the water or were still in the tank," Maria said.  "The electricity was out for a while, so they had no oxygen."

    Maria and her parents, Rodrigo and Carmen, spent the first day pumping out their home.  The boys helped.

    "I was very scared when the storm came because I didn't know what was going to happen," Jerry said.  As the apartment began to flood, he said, the family left to sleep at a relative's second-floor apartment a few doors away.  The family is still sleeping there, on blankets on the floor.

    "The water was up to half the door and we had to get buckets and take out all the water," Jerry said of their return home the next day.  "Until we opened the door and we saw the refrigerator floating on the water."

    Now the Gonzalezes are trying to get it clean enough to live in again.  The kitchen sink broke, so they have only the sink in the bathroom.  Their landlord stopped by Tuesday, Maria said, and told them the family was responsible for making the repairs.

    "He's actually been raising the rent and he's starting to charge us more and saying he wants to kick us out and he wants to take us out of here," Maria said.

    Carmen is now out of work because her workplace in a small factory also flooded.  Rodrigo's job as a waiter in a bar doesn't bring in enough to cover all the family's expenses.

    Maria knows there is no way she can afford the $500 needed for her senior graduation trip and formal dance.  It was due the day of the hurricane.  But now her family needs to buy new mattresses, at a minimum.

    "I mean like we have to replace everything before we can even [think about how to] pay that.  And then you have college applications and you have to pay for all of that, and then you have to start saving up for college," Maria said, beginning to tear up.  "But I'm like, that's the least of our worries right now, we just have to get our house back together and try to do the best we can."

    The Gonzalezes hope to be able to live again in the home at least for a while.  Carmen Gonzalez thinks it will be hard to find anything else they can afford.  But she says that they can't really afford their current rent, either.

    You May Like

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    City could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters

    Turkey Aims New Crackdown at Journalists, Academics, Airline Workers

    Ankara continues targeting people allegedly linked to exiled cleric, who it says led the failed military coup

    Pakistan Ready to Inaugurate Rebuilt Afghan Border Crossing

    Construction of Torkham Gate triggered deadly clashes between Pakistani and Afghan military forces

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Anonymous
    November 01, 2012 7:51 PM
    Shocking that the city does not protect people from landlords like this.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora