- Last Updated: 8:18 AM, November 15, 2012
- Posted: 1:04 AM, November 15, 2012
It’s not exactly a red carpet, but a Staten Island man whose home was devastated by Hurricane Sandy has just the thing to welcome President Obama today to his storm-ravaged neighborhood.
Perched outside Joseph Ingenito’s battered New Dorp Beach home is a 7-foot Christmas tree — all that remains of the towering blue spruce that toppled in his yard when the superstorm struck.
“I was hoping it was going to be the next Rockefeller Center Christmas tree,” Ingenito said.
The tree is decorated with ornaments that survived the surge, along with empty paper coffee cups, surgical masks and safety goggles.
“I just wanted to help the neighborhood keep its spirits up,” said Ingenito, whose Topping Street home was flooded when the hurricane struck. “We’re still going to have Christmas.”
FEMA-frustrated storm victims hope Obama comes bearing government gifts when he visits hard-hit areas of Long Island, Queens and Staten Island.
Sources said the president’s trip will include a helicopter fly-over with Gov. Cuomo above the Rockaways before he touches down at Staten Island’s Miller Field, where he will be met by Mayor Bloomberg.
Although Obama’s schedule is still tentative, he will likely spend a little time on the ground in and around New Dorp Beach, where a convoy of Sanitation Department street sweepers joined a neighborhood broom brigade to attack the piles of debris.
While the neighborhood buzzed with Secret Service, the National Guard and the NYPD, out-of-towner Dennis Murphy worried about the effects of a neighborhood on lockdown, where streets can be accessed only with a local ID.
“I’m going to have to sleep in one of these houses tonight if I want to help,” said Murphy, who flew in from Seattle to help his family in the neighborhood. “I leave on Monday and don’t have a day to waste while he walks around and makes a speech.”
“I want him to help me move this refrigerator,” said Achilleas Siozos, 53, as he cleaned up outside his home.
Heavy lifting is likely not on the agenda, but Obama did spend time yesterday tackling another weighty subject: climate change.
“I am a firm believer that climate change is real, that it is impacted by human behavior and carbon emissions,” Obama said at a news conference in response to a question about Hurricane Sandy.
“I think we’ve got an obligation to future generations to do something about it.”
Obama visited New Jersey two days after the storm, and received warm words from Republican Gov. Chris Christie just days before the presidential election.
In other developments:
* State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued subpoenas to LIPA and Con Ed regarding their preparations and response to Hurricane Sandy, sources said.
The broad request for documents includes preparation and recovery plans, communication records and information on what actions were taken to provide a reliable energy supply before and after Sandy.
* New York’s US senators outlined up to $1 billion in coastal storm-protection projects they are seeking immediately from the US Army Corps of Engineers.
* The city suspended alternate-side parking indefinitely for areas severely affected by the storm, including Canarsie, Bergen Beach, Gowanus and Red Hook in Brooklyn.
* The MTA is providing free shuttle buses from the Rockaways to and from its fare- and toll-hike hearings in Flushing today. Buses will leave the Far Rockaway-Mott Ave. subway station hourly starting at 3:30 pm.
The seven projects include the south shore of Staten Island, Long Beach, Fire Island, Rockaway Beach, Coney Island, Gilgo Beach and Asharoken.
* Dozens of American Red Cross relief workers are staying at the posh Soho Grand, one of few places with rooms available.
* New York’s highest court invoked its “disaster rule” for the first time, allowing out-of-state lawyers to provide pro-bono services to Sandy victims.
Additional reporting by Lorena Mongelli, S.A. Miller and Carl Campanile