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- Anna Lederman, a Russian-speaking nurse working with Occupy Sandy, walked up fourteen flights of a pitch-black stairwell in the Surfside Gardens housing complex in Coney Island on Monday and knocked on an apartment door, the only light coming from her small headlamp. An elderly woman wearing a babushka, walking slowly with a cane, told Lederman in Russian that she was all alone. She had her medications, but could not get down the stairs, and needed food. “This,” she said, “is like the second blockade of Leningrad.”
Many New Yorkers affected by the storm have complained about the uneven response from the city, FEMA, and Red Cross. Veterans of the Occupy movement, with experience in New Orleans at the Common Ground Clinic after Katrina, and in Zuccotti Park last year, have stepped in to fill the gap. “That’s one of the reasons we mobilized here first,” said Becca Piser, a street medic trained as a first-responder. “No one’s telling us where to go ...or not to go.” The Occupy crew in Coney Island also included some of Lederman's fellow nurses from Columbia University, who had been working in shelters and on the Occupy mission to Far Rockaway; a Russian and Spanish translator, who had answered the call on Facebook; Shawn Westfahl, one of the first medics at the Occupy encampment in Zuccotti Park; and Roger Benham and Jeff “Fidget” (his Occupy name), who worked together doing disaster relief in New Orleans and in Haiti after the earthquake.
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