In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, thousands of out-of-state workers rushed to aid those in need of help during the recovery process. These people traveled hundreds of miles away from their families and homes, but instead of being received with a warm welcome, some of these workers were being sent back home.
Workers from the Harlan Electric Company in Detroit, Michigan said that they were being forced out of their hotel rooms at the Hampton Inn in Islandia. They had been staying there for two weeks helping to restore power to Long Island, but were told they had to leave by November 9th, as the rooms they occupied were booked by other patrons. Many people felt the out-of-state workers were a positive and necessary force in the post-Sandy reconstruction. Hills West students also felt the treatment of the out-of-state workers was unjust. “The Harlan Electric workers were trying their best to give power back to those who lost it during Sandy. They didn’t deserve to be kicked out of their hotel rooms. They were being treated terribly by people, which is cruel and unfair because they were trying their hardest to give power back. They should be treated with respect because they [were] helping everyone who was affected by this storm,” commented freshman Tara Ranjibar. The rooms were being paid for by LIPA, so the Hampton Inn would not have been losing money on the rooms.
Many people, including Huntington Councilwoman Susan A. Berland, suggested that these workers stay at the firehouse where there are established sleeping quarters. This has been received negatively, due to the fact that it sends a message of ungratefulness. However, a source from the Commack Fire Dept commented that “several dozen out-of-state utility workers sought housing at the firehouse.”
In situations similar to this one, a number of out-of-state workers have been treated with hostility from the residents of Long Island. On November 14th, an electrical worker from Florida was brutally beat up in East Hempstead, after working a 13-hour shift helping restore power. This electrical worker, John Applewhite, had to have surgery as a result of this brutality. The Harlan Electric workers have finished their work and left our area, so there is no information on their whereabouts as of now. When contacted, the Hampton Inn had no comment.