Hurricane Sandy Victims Vote Amid Storm Chaos

It was a not an easy day for voting in parts of the Northeast. Communities hit hard by last week's Hurricane Sandy saw long lines and confusion at polling places. Some voters had to fill out emergency ballots.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Tuesday was not an easy day for voting in the Northeast. Communities hit hard by last week's storm saw long lines and confusion. NPR's Robert Smith spent yesterday in New York City neighborhoods without power and has this report.

ROBERT SMITH, BYLINE: Before you can vote for a government you have to trust your government, and trust is in short supply on the Rockaway Peninsula these days.

TIM GRUBB: We have no power. We have no electricity. We have no lights. We have no security. We have nothing, and it's cold and it's crazy down here.

SMITH: And so Tim Grubb did not vote. Even though he lives just two blocks from a giant white tent being used as his neighborhood polling place. Tim Grubb just went back to pulling the wet sheetrock off the walls of his flooded home.

GRUBB: I'm not anti-government. I'm just taking a break this time.

SMITH: On Election Day in the Rockaways, democracy did not look easy. The polling place was chaotic.

(SOUNDBITE OF WHISTLING)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: One more time. You are going to vote by emergency ballot....

SMITH: Officials couldn't start the generator at first. The polling tent had no lights, no heat. Johanna Gregory and Peggy Thomas arrived holding this confusing set of directions on where to vote.

JOHANNA GREGORY: Well, this is the paper right here. Hamilton Community Center. Should to go PS 14 in Bayswater. That's wrong.

SMITH: How could they know? The voters of the Rockaways hadn't been watching the news. They had no power, remember. They hadn't been getting mail. Some didn't have phones that worked. Other had lost everything. And yet, despite this, people showed up.

They walked from their wrecked houses and their dark, powerless high rises and they stood in line, patiently. Deborah Pearson was near the front of the line, waiting to vote at six in the morning.

DEBORAH PEARSON: I have no heat so that helps me get up very early.

SMITH: OK. Maybe that isn't inspiring. But that's not the point. Pearson didn't seem excited about being out here to vote. She was here because she felt she had to vote.

PEARSON: It's a right. Must exercise it beyond all things. You know, this is just something you have to do.

SMITH: And that pretty much sums up life right now in the storm zone. People haul out their wet furniture, shovel out the mud, start to rebuild. They're doing what they have to do. Robert Smith, NPR News, New York.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: