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New York Times - 28 January 2013


SOUNDBITE (English) Devon Lawrence, Nearly 3 months without heat at his New York home:

"I get up before my mother awakes and start it going that way she doesn't freeze cause she is diabetic and she has been complaining about extreme cold since hurricane Sandy." "To keep warm what we do is we unconventional methods. I have a kerosene heater here and it takes about 5 gallons for every 2 and half days, and over here as you can see the gas stove, I have bricks on it that way I can get added heat. Right now we are using these methods of heating as well as electrical heaters." "My mother she sleeps under 2 blankets, sometimes with 4 pieces of pants, shirts about 3 shirts, hat and gloves depending on how cold it is but she is more cold than me because she is elderly." "Down here these are two bedrooms, I was using temporarily for storage, but everything that was down here was flooded and destroyed." "My pet, as you can see he has his own heater right there to keep him warm." "My mother is miserable right now because she has been very very cold. Like I said she has been wearing all those garments. It's cold for her. She lays in the bed, she is diabetic and it doesn't help her with her being cold." "I'm rather upset, and kinda sad that this is happening in New York City or in a great country of the United States of America, I'm from Jamaica. I don't know what will happened tomorrow but hopefully that if something like this happens again New York or whatever other state there is, that whatever I'm going through right now that people don't go through the same thing. There should be a lesson learned." "My advice to anyone else who is going through the same or even worse than myself is never to quit. Never quit. A quitter never wins and a winner never quits, and I never give up."

1. Wide of Devon Lawrence sitting in his kitchen

2. tight of flame in heater

3. Wide of Lawrence talking

4. Wide of House

5. Wide of Lawrence explaining how he keeps warm

6. Mid of heater

7. Tight of water on top of heater

8. Zoom from Lawrence to bricks on stove

9. Tight of stove flame

10. Wide of Lawrence

11. Mid of stove

12. Mid of Lawrence walking down stairs

13. Pan of ruined bathroom

14. Mid of Lawrence pointing to his dog

15. Tight of dog

16. Mid of Lawrence showing where new leak is

17. Tight of pipe

18. Tight of leak

19. Wide of Lawrence taking dog outside

20. Mid of Lawrence talking

21. Picture of Lawrence's mom

22. Pan of wrecked family room

23. Mid of Lawrence

24. Pan from American flag to ruined wall

25. Mid of bucket of flood water

26. Mid of Lawrence

27. Wide of Lawrence walking in his backyard


Three months after Superstorm Sandy struck, many storm victims are stuck in limbo.

Waiting for money to come through. Waiting for paperwork to be filed. Waiting for homes to be bulldozed.

Some are still living in mold-infested homes, while others have taken temporary shelter in hotels.

Their lives are nothing close to normal yet _ and likely won't be for a very long time.

While businesses have begun reopening and communities plow ahead with rebuilding, fatigue and frustration have set in over the painfully slow recovery process.

Devon Lawrence, a retired Army medic, hasn't had working heat in his brick two-story home since the storm hit. Now mold is growing upstairs because the house has been cold and damp for so long.

Flames licked the sides of a kerosene heater that sits in the middle of his kitchen.

Several bricks were burning on the gas stove to keep the place warm. His 75-year-old mother, who suffers from dementia and has refused to leave the house, wears a hat and gloves to bed at night.

"I get up before my mother awakes and get it going," said Lawrence, who emigrated to the U.S. from Jamaica in 1989. "That way she doesn't freeze."

The heat finally switched on last week when FEMA workers installed a new oil tank, after weeks of wrangling with various agencies and officials.

The house warmed up, but water began pouring out of electrical outlets and radiator vents and Lawrence found himself back where he has been for the last 3 months.

Despite all of Lawrence's frustration, he remains positive.

"My advice to anyone else who is going through the same or even worse than myself is never to quit. Never quit. A quitter never wins and a winner never quits, and I never give up," said Lawrence.