GUY RAZ, HOST:
It's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz. We're going to get back to politics in just a few moments. But first, some news from the areas hit hard by last week's storm. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said today that 30- to 40,000 people are now homeless in his city. He compared the scope of the crisis to Hurricane Katrina.
Today, many New Yorkers who had planned to watch, or to run, the canceled New York City Marathon instead looked for ways to help. The closest hard-hit area, for many, was Staten Island. That's connected to Manhattan by a ferry, which is where our report - from NPR's Quil Lawrence - begins.
QUIL LAWRENCE, BYLINE: Personal tragedies in Staten Island, and other places, pushed city officials to cancel the marathon at the last minute. This morning, volunteers crowded on to the ferry.
(SOUNDBITE OF FERRY ANNOUNCEMENT)
ADAM CYRIL: You know, it's my first time in Staten Island.
LAWRENCE: Adam Cyril came from Queens, wearing his number for what would have been his first marathon. He'd been training all year.
CYRIL: It's something that was going to be a milestone in my life, you know? But, you know, I don't think anybody feels that it's as important as people losing their homes or their lives, or their families.
LAWRENCE: Heather Mosher, and a group of friends, are back for a second day of volunteering near the bay, which looked right into the storm.
HEATHER MOSHER: It's terrible, you know? We were actually able to connect with a bunch of families. So we kind of took a list of everything that they needed, and we're going to get that over to them today.
LAWRENCE: Food and water are pretty well taken care of, she says, but there were some specific requests; personal stuff - like underwear, but mostly cleaning supplies - garbage bags, and deodorant spray for the diesel smell in many of the houses.
(SOUNDBITE OF GENERATOR)
LAWRENCE: The tide came in 13 feet high, and crashed through rows upon rows of houses. There's one generator going at a convenience store; a kid out front, shoveling away a mix of mud and sewage. Richard Quinn lived in the same house he was born in, on Liberty Avenue.
RICHARD QUINN: It's a total - really is a total loss.
LAWRENCE: How long you been living here?
QUINN: Fifty years.
LAWRENCE: Fifty years.
LAWRENCE: He's a firefighter. He was prepared - had a generator, had a sump pump; had seen storms here before, just as his parents had before him. Didn't matter. Doesn't know where to go.
QUINN: No idea yet. Just haven't even thought about it. Just trying to see, you know, which way is up right now. Everything's gone.
UNIDENTIFIED RED CROSS VOLUNTEER: You guys need a hot lunch? Step right up to the window.
LAWRENCE: A Red Cross truck is giving out hot meals, and so are many groups from Staten Island. One lady is driving around, handing out coffee and doughnuts.
EDDIE BEHAROVIC: Hey, you guys are back.
MOSHER: Yeah, of course.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Hi.
E. BEHAROVIC: Good morning. You walking a lot, huh?
LAWRENCE: Heather Mosher and her friends show up on one of the volunteer buses, and find a family they met yesterday, Eddie and Stephanie Beharovic.
STEPHANIE BEHAROVIC: Eddie, these are the guys from yesterday, baby. They want to help all of us.
LAWRENCE: They lived on the upper floor of a small house that now bears a red condemned sticker. They dropped their kids off with relatives in Brooklyn, and now it's time to pack up everything they can salvage. But they're coming back someday.
S. BEHAROVIC: If we get hit again, we get hit again. But this is our home. This is where we want to come back to.
LAWRENCE: They haven't heard from FEMA or their insurance company or the city. But Eddie says they've discovered that they've got everything they really need.
E. BEHAROVIC: You know, don't be spoiled in life. You see all the things that we have, that we really didn't need; and now, to a point where we are not needing these things, and we're still surviving.
LAWRENCE: Quil Lawrence, NPR News, New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.