New York's Chinatown has had over 100 years of history. In the past century, it weathered ups and downs along with the city. After 9/11, Chinatown gradually came out of the shadows. But the hurricane on October 29 threw Chinatown back into darkness and fear.
"We are on the 5th floor of a Chinatown residential building. Just now we followed a woman who was carrying buckets of water from Confucious Plaza. She had to climb the dark stairs with a flash light to bring water back home. They keep their water in the hallway." (Reporter's stand-up)
Mr. Wang, who's in his 50s, lives with his wife, two children, his old parents, and their relatives, totaling ten people in one humble apartment.
"We have elderly who can't walk downstairs. My wife and I have to carry buckets of water up. They are so heavy. We get exhausted." Said Mr. Wang.
"Businesses are all closed. Bridges are closed too. We can't go anywhere. We are stuck here. My children don't have food. Yesterday I finally got some food for my kids, but they got diarrhea. I don't know what to do. My poor kids."
Once you walk into Knikerbocker Village which hasn't had power for two weeks, you feel the bone-chilling cold. It is completely dark in the staircase. You can only see the two steps before you even with a flash light. The residents, hungry and cold, are nearly running out of patience.
"We can't stand it anymore. My home is even colder than outside." One resident anxiously said.
"No one can endure this if they don't give us a date." Another added.
Knickerbocker Village is privately-owned, but it is funded by the state government. It has 12 buildings in the east and west yards, totalling 1600 residences. Chinese make up 2/3 of the residents. After 10 days of power outage, some residents finally got their power back. But over 900 residents are still in the dark.
"There is no electricity, no heat. How do we live a life like this?" A resident complained.
Among the residents here, almost 1,000 are older than 70. According to The New York Times, 101-year-old Mrs. Hsieh could not stop coughing in the coldness and eventually died. A blackout is inconvenient for everyone, but it could be life-threatening to the elderly. 88-year-old Mrs. Cui told us that she fell in the dark staircase and hurt her knees two days ago when she had to go buy more batteries for her flash light. Another old lady who is living by herself fell at home, but couldn't ring for help because there was no power.
Nine days after electricity returned Lower Manhattan, Knickerbocker is one of the very few buildings without power. But when Mayor Bloomberg was asked about Knickerbocker, he didn't even have a clue.
"I don't know specifically about Knickerbocker Village. My staff will check with the power company to find out." The mayor responded to SinoVision's question.
The mayor went on to explain that in some buildings, the power cords were flooded. There could be an explosion if power were turned on without a professional inspection. But Comptroller John Liu who comes to help for the second time claims that the city is not doing enough for Chinatown.
"Now we're almost two weeks after the storm. And it still seems that the city services are not getting out to people who need it the most." Comptroller Liu told SinoVision.
“It is very saddening and frustrating to see families and businesses struggling so much.” Said Councilwoman Margaret Chin.
During the interviews, we also felt the resilience and tolerance of the Chinese. At least they still have a home compared with thousands of New Yorkers who lost everything. They don't blame the government for helping communities in worse conditions.
“It's okay as long as we can live by every day. Our government is very busy now.” A resident told us.
Luckily in the difficult time, they have help from NGOs. Today the Tzu Chi Foundation and the United Fujianese American Association brought 1,000 hot meals to make the residents finally feel some warmth. (End)