EW spoke to Sons of Anarchy – and Staten Island native — Theo Rossi (Juice Ortiz), who was home visiting family and friends when Sandy hit. He’s remained there ever since and gave us this first-hand account of the devastation.
“It’s so bad here, a lot worse than how its being portrayed by the media. They are finding bodies left and right, elderly people who don’t even watch the news or who knew the storm was coming. I was just with one of my best friends from high school and college, and his house is completely gone. One story I heard was about this one guy who evacuated his house during Hurricane Irene but then it got looted. So when they told him to evacuate for Sandy, he said, ‘I’m not leaving.’ Now they can’t find him, his 13-year-old daughter is dead, and his wife is in critical condition at the hospital. These are the stories. My stepfather and my mother, I love them to death. But when they heard the storm was coming, they said, ‘It’s not going to be that bad. Irene didn’t do anything.’ They had two flashlights and a couple of scented candles. Little did they know. It’s just not worth it. If you’re told to evacuate, you need to get out.
The one weird thing is how there is no power. The other weird thing is how there’s no gas. To get gas requires a three-and-a-half hour wait. It’s like this odd, post-apocalyptic kind of thing. Most trees are down. Power lines are down. It’s like a movie, or like The Walking Dead. You can’t believe it. Especially when you grow up here. I moved to Los Angeles in 1999, but this has always been my home. There’s the place I kissed a girl, that’s the place I played handball. I know this island in and out. To see it completely destroyed is bizarre.
I’ve been trying to hit every shelter on Staten Island to do what I can, just to make people smile. A lot of people know me and know I’m from here. My flight has been changed six times now. Finally, I got a flight for Sunday. Then, the city decides they are going ahead with the New York City Marathon. The bridges will be closed, so I can’t get to the airport. How are they doing a marathon when most people don’t have power? On top of it, the hotels in Manhattan have been nice enough to put up people who have no homes. They are charging them $200 as opposed to $700 a night. But now they are throwing these people out because they’ve got people from all over the world coming to run the marathon. They are throwing out the survivors! So I call Jet Blue and say I can’t fly Sunday because I can’t get from Staten Island to JFK Airport. And they said ‘Okay Theo.’ They know me know because I’ve been calling them every 15 minutes. They say, ‘Theo, we can get you on a flight Friday.’ I say book it! I call up the car service, and they say, ‘We can’t pick you up, we have no gas.’ All my friends on Staten Island say, ‘How are we going to get you there? We have no gas.’ And the people who do have gas, don’t want to waste it going to JFK. So I’ve got to call and change my flight again. Now I’m leaving Monday. Everybody says if we don’t have gas in our cars by Monday, if the roads aren’t clear by Monday, that’s it … we’re throwing in the towel.
I’m really glad I’m here to help and do anything, but I’ve never seen anything like this. I’m just glad I’m here with my family. A shout out and thank you to all the amazing city workers who have been working around the clock. Police, fire, sanitation. You all are the true fabric of this city.”