After Sandy, Day Laborers Play Central Role

Fox News Latino - Elizabeth Llorente

It is about 8:30 a.m., just days after superstorm Sandy unleashed her force and fury in the northeast.


Men with calloused hands, world-weary lined faces that make them seem years older than they are, practically stand on their toes in the lot of a closed gas station on the exit ramp off Route 46 in New Jersey.

Each time a car slows, pulling into the lot, they swarm around it.
"How many do you need?" they ask the drivers. "What kind of work is it?"

These are day laborers, nearly all of them undocumented immigrants, who are helping to clean up and rebuild New Jersey and New York after the storm that left power lines down, homes and buildings flooded, sidings contorted ,and trees lying across roadways, or atop cars and roofs.

Estimates put the damage caused by Sandy at roughly $45 billion.
Usually, there are upwards of 100 laborers waiting on the corners in this square-mile town that has access to many of the highways that lead to all parts of the state and to Manhattan, less than 20 miles to the east.
But after Sandy, there are less than a dozen before 9 a.m. Contractors and homeowners, and others who have damage from the storm, have been streaming to the town to hire them for a day or more.
While government agencies require licensed workers for those types jobs, in the chaos near destruction -- when the more helping hands are available the better -- those laws are often overlooked.
"I've done everything," said a 38-year-old immigrant from Honduras who, like others who stood with him, did not want to give his name for fear of deportation. "Mostly cleaning up flooded basements, there's a big demand for that."
"Trees," said a 50-year-old worker from Colombia. "Some trees have branches that didn't break off completely, and branches are just hanging, and could break off and hurt someone or damage something, so people want us to fix that."
So day laborers have waded in knee-deep water to take out ruined furniture and other objects from house and building basements. They have carried gallons of fuel to those who need them, and cleared debris from countless yards and lots. They have ripped out drywall and nailed back fallen fences.
When disasters strike – be they natural or man-made – day laborers in the United States have played a central role in helping to pick up the pieces and rebuild.
They formed fire brigades in California to help homeowners who were affected by wildfires in the hills.
They streamed into Louisiana from all around the country after Hurricane Katrina.

Read more: http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/news/2012/11/05/after-sandy-immigrant-day-laborers-play-central-role-in-cleanup-and-rebuilding/#ixzz2BUEG6QoE