In the Staten Island neighborhood of Great Kills, dozens of boats sat untouched, blocking roads, leaning against houses, tangled up in overhead wires, jumbled together on empty lots as if they had been tossed into a child’s toy box. Residents looked dazed as they dragged out mattresses, drywall, refrigerators and clothing, creating soggy, mildewy piles in front of their homes. Neighbors served homemade soup from the back of sport-utility vehicles.
Many said their neighbors have been the only source of aid.
“People will walk by and say, ‘I’m so sorry. Do you need help? Can I get you a cup of coffee?’ ” said Victor Lorenzo, 45, an electrician whose home was swamped by the water Sandy blew ashore. “I’ve seen people pick up wedding pictures and old photos, and go looking for the people they belong to.”
Anthony Danna, 49, also an electrician, was pointing out the high-water mark on his house, with brown algae still clinging to the side about 10 feet from the ground, when two neighborhood children walked up bearing pizza boxes.
“Would you like a cupcake?” said Bridget O’Brien, 11, opening a box to show the chocolate and vanilla confections she had baked with her cousin Sean McKenna, also 11.
Farther north, along Father Capodanno Boulevard, Joseph Anthony Verdino and John Calabrese spread hot dogs, chicken, clothing and towels on a folding table set up on the side of the road. The offerings kept growing larger, not smaller, as residents drove past and made donations.
“When I’m eating breakfast in a heated house, how could I sit there so comfortable when my neighbors are in need,” said Jacqueline Mannino, 28, who brought several bags of clothing.
Kim Joyce, whose rented bungalow has three sides shredded or gone, said someone from the Federal Emergency Management Agency stopped by Thursday but was only empowered to search for bodies, not to offer help to survivors.
Joyce, 41, a food and beverage manager whose nine cats were carried away when a giant wave pummeled them, cried when she spoke about what she had lost and then quickly apologized for her tears.
“Where’s the Red Cross? Where’s FEMA? Where’s anybody? Maybe they’re other places,” she said, “but they’re not here. Somebody please get here and help us.”
A large Consolidated Edison truck was parked at a park entrance Friday afternoon, holding bags of dry ice that workers passed out to all comers.
Frank Abenante, a retired IT technician for Con Ed, picked up a couple of bags to keep his food from spoiling. But he said he only knew about the free dry ice by word of mouth, because many residents lacked the electricity to watch television or power their cellphones.
“We feel very disconnected,” he said.
Brennan, the firefighter, paid a private contractor to bulldoze the mud away from the street in front of his home.
“I’m doing the government’s job with my own money,” he yelled over the sound of the bulldozer scraping against pavement.
In Brooklyn, shortages of fuel continued to bedevil workers and others seeking the means to commute or move around. Would-be drivers wandered the street with red gas canisters in search of an open gas station. The few stations that did have fuel rationed it to two gallons and barred cars from entering the station, requiring motorists to stand in line with a container.
“I’ve been looking for gas since 6:30 this morning,” said Mike Cuevas, 45, who trudged along Brooklyn’s Fourth Avenue past a BP station with cardboard placards announcing “no gas.”
The mood was in some ways less tense than the previous day, when commuters fought for a place in line at crowded stations. Charles Diop, 49, who was hunting for a gas station to fill his stalled car, said he was angry Thursday. “Now I’m trying to calm down,” he said. “My situation is not the worst. Some of my co-workers lost their homes.”