Immigrants on the eastern seaboard are among those bearing the brunt of Hurricane Sandy.
Konstantin Dubyago was born in the Ukraine and works as a limousine driver in Coney Island and Brighton Beach.
Producers Nina Porzucki and Audrey Quinn found him trying to start his Mercedes Benz which had floated out of its parking place.
Dubyago tells host Lisa Mullins how his neighborhood’s large Russian community is coping in the storm’s aftermath.
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Lisa Mullins: I am Lisa Mullins and this is The World. The day after hurricane Sandy slammed into U.S., President Barrack Obama is warning that the storm’s threat is not yet over. Sandy continues to churn northward toward Canada. It’s spilling heavy rain and strong winds throughout a huge area. Earlier, the President signed what’s called a major disaster declaration for both New Jersey and New York. Officials in both states made it clear that damage is extensive. More than 30 deaths are being blamed on the storm. Millions of people remain without power today. In New York City, flooding continues to be a problem especially in the subway system. Mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters that the system will remain closed for several days. He also said public schools will stay closed tomorrow. And then the Mayor said this:-
Mayor Michael Bloomberg: We’ll take a few questions, but before let me just try to summarize for our Spanish-speaking New Yorkers [starts speaking in Spanish].
Mullins: Mayor Bloomberg often translates his statements into Spanish in a nod to a city’s diverse population. New Yorker Konstantin Dubyago doesn’t speak Spanish. He was born in Ukraine. He works as a limousine driver in Coney Island and Brighton Beach – areas of Brooklyn with a large Russian immigrant community. Dubyago says, “It’s been a hard day.”
Konstantin Dubyago: We have no electricity. We have no water. Luckily, we have phone service in the apartment and the gas; that’s it. No water, no electricity.
Mullins: No, but you have gas which is pretty important for a limousine driver. Tell me how you got kind of stranded where you are right now in Coney Island. What happened?
Dubyago: Well, it is my house. My car is in the parking lot next to the house and I came out in the morning and my car is 180 degrees spun around. I was shocked. I knew there was a lot of water coming through the parking lot. It was like a meter and a half. I don’t know how many…like 4 feet or 5 feet. Yeah, the car was floated and the flow of the water turned the car around. It was parallel to the next car to me. It’s unbelievable. The car was floating like a boat.
Mullins: It’s hard to comprehend how your car ended up floating like a boat. What kind of limo is it anyway?
Dubyago: It’s a Mercedes Benz.
Mullins: It’s a Mercedes. Oh! So, that must be particularly distressing since you rely on this Mercedes for your business.
Dubyago: The funny stuff is the doors are so sealed, that’s why it floated. My car has no moisture inside.
Mullins: No way!
Dubyago: It means it’s sealed. That’s why it floated.
Mullins: Your car is moisture-sealed, so you’re saying that there’s no water inside.
Dubyago: Yeah. I’m so lucky because it’s not only one car damaged, it’s like thousands of cars around here damaged.
Mullins: So, just very briefly, was this the only damage that was done to your property?
Dubyago: You’re kidding me…the only damage? We have no electricity. My food is going to be rotting in my house which has no electricity. I don’t know what we’re gonna do. We have a problem.
Mullins: You have a problem.
Dubyago: We’re stuck here. Do you want to come over and help us? You’re welcome.
Mullins: I wish I could help you. So, this whole experience for you it sounds like, Konstantin, it’s been pretty frustrating.
Dubyago: No. I’m a United States citizen; I can take anything. Okay?
Mullins: I guess you can.
Dubyago: Thirty-three years I’ve lived here. I would give my life for this country. This is nothing compared to living in the Soviet Union [laughs]. A situation like this in the Soviet Union…mama mia! I’m telling you.
Mullins: By the way, I know that there’s a huge Russian immigrant community where you are right now in Brighton Beach for a long time.
Dubyago: Yeah…Brighton Beach…for now. People lived here since 1975.
Mullins: Does an occasion like this bring a lot of people to your rescue? Do a lot of Russians help each other out in a circumstance like this, or is everybody hit hard enough that they can’t?
Dubyago: The Russians? We have no communication my friend. We have not had any communication. So, if somebody calls us, this and that, they probably will come. They are going to bring some vodka and we’re gonna celebrate. Very simple, you know. Russians never up.
Mullins: Well, don’t give up on that Mercedes.
Dubyago: I’ll never give up.
Mullins: Okay. By the way, Konstantin, what does it look like around you there? Wet, dry, what?
Dubyago: It’s dry but it’s very windy. The rain has stopped. Very windy; very heavy winds; it will blow you away. If you didn’t have breakfast, you’re gonna be blown away.
Mullins: Well, we wish you good luck and hope that car gets started again so that you can go on with your livelihood.
Dubyago: I’m a very positive person. It will start servicing and I will forget in a couple days about this.
Mullins: Konstantin, good luck and thank you very much.
Dubyago: Thank you.
Mullins: New Yorker Konstantin Dubyago was born in the Ukraine. He works as a limousine driver in Coney Island and Brighton Beach.
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