Devon Lawrence hasn't had heat since Hurricane Sandy three months ago. His elderly mother wears gloves to bed and Lawrence wakes up early to turn the heat on so she doesn't wake up cold. Despite all of the challenges, he isn't giving up:
Devon Lawrence neatly stacked bricks on the gas burner of his kitchen stove and turned up the blue flame, creating a sort of radiator that warmed the ice-cold room.
His two-story house in the Far Rockaway section of Queens hasn't had working heat since Superstorm Sandy's floodwaters destroyed the oil burner in the basement. Now mold is growing upstairs because the house has been cold and damp for so long.
Lawrence wakes early every morning to heat the bricks and light a kerosene space heater while his 75-year-old mother sits in bed in a hat and gloves.
"That way she doesn't freeze," said Lawrence, a former Army medic who served in Afghanistan and Iraq. "Even the dog is cold."
The Associated Press also interviewed Norma Mancia, a Salvadoran immigrant, for this report. Mancia's home is also located in the Far Rockaways, and she lost many preciouos documents in the flooding.
"We lost all the receipts and papers we could need in case we have the opportunity of solving our legal status here," said Mancia, who has received only $500 in aid from a local church. "I have cried a lot."
Because she is in the U.S. illegally, Mancia has not received any funds from FEMA.
President Obama today called upon Congress to finally fix what he called a "broken" immigration system. While there seems to be rare bipartisan cooperation in crafting a plan that includes a clear path to citizenship, it seems unlikely that any new legislation could be put into effect soon enough to be of assistance to Mancia, or others in similar situations.