Natural Disasters

After Sandy, FEMA Fails and Volunteers Step In

Left to their own devices, residents clean-up and protect what's left

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Volunteers and disaster victims have taken rescue, recovery and security into their own hands on New York's storm-ravaged borough of Staten Island, where they say FEMA has forgotten them.

Already without power for more than a week in the wake of superstorm Sandy, hard-hit residents of the borough's South Shore braved a nor'easter Wednesday night, many—perhaps hundreds—huddling in condemned homes and ignoring orders to evacuate out of fear looters would take what little Mother Nature has left them

"FEMA packed up everything yesterday and left the area," said MaryLou Wong, whose home in the Midland Beach neighborhood was destroyed. "They haven't come back."

Punch-drunk residents' ire is also aimed at the city—which is going door-to-door to order people out of their homes—at the American Red Cross, which some say has not done enough and at police and firefighters. One group of residents, calling themselves the "Brown Cross," is patrolling the devastated streets, armed with walkie-talkies, and helping residents clear debris and pump water from their flooded homes. The group started with a dozen men, and has swollen to more than 100.