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After Hurricane Sandy: How I Witnessed Taxpayer Dollars Go Down the Tube During Relief Efforts

Sometimes asking for help can’t get you the ensemble you need. There has to be desire and, apparently, authorization.

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Yes, indeed. My partner and I have been out to Breezy Point working on our storm torn house every weekend since Sandy hit.  After that first week we rarely saw the military, but this Saturday we arrived to find an army jeep backed up to our lot, engine on, with 4 or 5 soldiers inside the vehicle. 

As we set to work hauling cement, from our former basement, to the dumpster we had rented, I was astonished to see one soldier help himself to our deck for better cell phone reception, then return to his vehicle and sit warmly inside with his small unit, as we continued to work. After 40 minutes of this, I walked over to the jeep and asked if they might help us haul cement block to the dumpster for a few minutes. The cell phone interloper, who appeared to be in charge, said they had to leave to bring blankets and aid somewhere else. Interesting moment to decide this!

He offered me a refuse disposal request form and said someone would call us to arrange help with the disposal. My jaw dropped and I could not help but repeat my request for help. At this point one of his colleagues came around the vehicle and said, “where can we help you m’am.”.  They helped for fifteen minutes and were gone.

Disaster aid tax dollars were spent on five idle soldiers and a vehicle burning gas for over an hour last Saturday in Breezy Point, NY, proving that sometimes even a theater background and an upbringing that normalized asking for help can’t get you the ensemble you need; there has to be desire and apparently, authorization.


Beth McGuire is an Assistant Professor of Acting - Adjunct at Yale School of Drama and a professional Voice and Dialect Coach and is a Public Voices Fellow with The OpEd Project.

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