Two months after Sandy, there are many examples of the strong recovery effort in New York, with organizations working hard in their community and collaborating with government agencies to assist storm survivors.
A community center on Staten Island lost power after the storm, like so much of the island, but continued its efforts to support the community. The center kept its food pantry open and provided cleaning supplies to affected residents, and the staff contacted 3,000 senior adults who participate in the center’s programs to determine their status and if help was needed.
In Long Island City, 250 homeless veterans were displaced from a veterans shelter and relocated to a facility in Brooklyn, where they did not have access to the Internet or phones. The Brooklyn Borough president’s office asked FEMA to help, and FEMA teams went to the shelter and assisted the veterans in registration and follow-up casework.
In Brighton Beach, many physicians’ offices were flooded on the ground floor or basement of large apartment buildings, so FEMA is working with community leaders, the New York Eye and Ear Institute and Project Chernobyl to coordinate donations of medical supplies and equipment to the affected physicians.
“New Yorkers have shown their strength over the last two months as we recover from Hurricane Sandy,” said Jerome M. Hauer, New York State’s Commissioner of the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. “The joint effort between FEMA, Governor Cuomo, and the municipalities has helped aid get where needed and New York get back on track.”
After the storm, a woman was sleeping in her car in East Rockaway because her home was flooded. She stopped by a church for blankets, gloves and food and a team of community relations specialists from FEMA met her at the church and helped her register for disaster assistance. FEMA also helped her obtain temporary shelter and the American Red Cross helped her obtain medical care.
One 92-year-old man had forgotten to include his Social Security number on the application and the staff at a recovery center helped him fix that oversight. A Russian-speaking woman was concerned about a letter from FEMA and the recovery center provided a Russian-speaking specialist to help her answer questions about her application.
Also, the American Red Cross, the Food Bank for New York and other organizations have served 3.7 million meals and more than 500 national, state and local voluntary and faith-based organizations have helped those in need by providing donations, volunteer management, home repair, child care, counseling services and removal of muck and mold from homes.
“We couldn’t do this by ourselves,” said Michael F. Byrne, FEMA’s federal coordinating officer, who is a New Yorker. “New Yorkers have a strong sense of community and they look after one another. We’re just joining their team.”
Editor’s note: our release in the newsroom has additional numbers on the work that has been completed in the last 60 day.