Tag Archive: Occupy Sandy

Dec 03 2012

Rescuing the Volunteers of Hurricane Sandy

Aimen Youseff's Community Aid, Midland BeachOver a month, New York City is still reeling from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Many people are still without power, heat and far too many without a place to live. Volunteers are still needed in the hardest hit areas of Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. The last thing that the residents of these neighborhoods need is the heavy handed control tactics of Mayor Michael Bloomberg who likes to maintain the illusion that everything is going well and no more help is needed. Now all he needs is $32 billion in federal aid to repair Manhattan’s damaged infrastructure and expand the subway system, not protect it.

After reading the reports that the mayor was threatening to stop volunteers from distributing supplies and serving hot meals that were posted here, Docudharma and Daily Kos by ek hornbeck, I went to Midland Beach to spend a couple of hours talking to the people and walking around the area. Despite the destruction, the dwindling interest of the city to help clean up and frusrations, the attitude is perseverance and determination to rebuild and stay in their home community.

The one person I really wanted to meet was Aiman Youssef, whose home was destroyed, but instead of seeking refuge elsewhere he remained to set up a distribution hub on his property on Midland Ave. With the help of friends, neighbors and community volunteers they are offering cleaning supplies and equipment (mobs, buckets, crowbars, bleach), clothing, medical supplies and non-perishable food. I spoke with Mr. Youseff and his merry band of volunteers who call themselves the “Yellow Team” and say they are here for the duration. This is their home. They have set up a facebook page and aligned with Occupy Sandy, the offshoot of Occupy Wall St that is coordinating Sandy relief efforts through out the city.

There is an outdoor kitchen under a canopy that serves free hot food and coffee that’s located in a driveway. All of the tables are neatly stacked with the free for the taking supplies, extending along the curb side from in front of Mr. Youseff’s home for half a block in front of LaRocca’s Family Restaurant. The street and the side walk are cleaned up by the volunteers. One of the volunteers told me that they are being very careful since the city’s threat to shut the Hub, as it’s called, down for safety reasons. There is still a large police presence in the neighborhood and most likely will be for sometime to come.

The local NBC News interviewed Mr. Youseff about the lack of information and growing frustration with the city

View more videos at: http://nbcnewyork.com.

It’s amazing that the city would be so concerned about the safety of the Hub when the streets in the area are still littered with piles of debris in front of homes that not only block the sidewalk but spill into the street. Driving and walking down narrow one way streets is hard enough with the vehicles of volunteer workers and pick up trucks but add broken glass, boards with rusting nails sticking out, household appliances, and moldy, rotting furnishing and there is the real safety hazard.

This house is next to another food kitchen across from the Yellow Team Hub.

Uncollected Debris next to Food Kitchen, Midland Beach

This building under renovation is on the corner opposite the food kitchen.

Debris next to Food Kitchen, Midland Beach

This house has been condemned and is just around the corner for the Hub.

Debris in front of condemned home, Midland Beach

This is the other side of that street.

Side Street & uncollected debris, Midland Beach

Residents were telling me that this has been like this for weeks and the piles grow daily. Where is the city? I was there nearly 2 hours talking to some very frustrated people who had no kind words for the mayor. During all that time, I didn’t see one sanitation truck. Yes, it’s Sunday but this is a disaster area and clean up here should be a 24/7 job. There is no excuse. The dime is on FEMA.

These are not wealthy people. They are blue collar workers. Some own and operate businesses out of their homes; some work for the city. They own; they rent. Many have lived here all their lives, while others moved here because Staten Island is unique. We have deer and zebras.

All is not gloom, there is laughter and smiles and dreams of a better future for Midland Beach. The Yellow Team is even looking forward to the holidays and put up a Christmas Tree. My picture didn’t come out, so here;s one from the team’s facebook page.

Dreaming of Yellow Christmas

Those wishing to volunteer or donate non-perishable food, diapers, personal care items (toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap), cleaning supplies (especially bleach) or even (ahem) money, you can contact Mr Youseff or Hannah, the Yellow team coordinator here

Demand the Mayor’s office end community hub eviction and instead support hubs with space and equipment  by writing, calling, faxing or e-mailing:

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg

City Hall

New York, NY 10007

PHONE 311 (or 212-NEW-YORK outside NYC)

E-MAIL:

http://www.nyc.gov/html/mail/html/mayor.html

Or contact the Public Advocate’s office:

   (212) 669-7250, 9am-5pm

   GetHelp@pubadvocate.nyc.gov

Nov 13 2012

Bloomberg Holds Public Housing Residents Hostage

Mayor Bloomberg, NYCHA and HUD: Restore power to all NYCHA residents

CALL MAYOR BLOOMBERG: THE CITY’S RESPONSE TO OUR NYCHA NEIGHBORS IS UNACCEPTABLE.

Twelve days and counting after Sandy hit on October 29, children, parents, families, the elderly and disabled remain without lights, heat, hot water or power in New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA).

This is true for houses in Gowanus, Red Hook, the Rockaways, Coney Island and elsewhere.

John Rhea, the chairman of NYCHA, told The Huffington Post that he and the organization have been doing the best they could. Unfortunately, he said, these buildings happened to be located in the areas hardest hit by the hurricane. Yet, power in those hard hit areas has been restored – just not in NYCHA housing.

Mayor Bloomberg has not addressed or remedied the failure of his city’s response. Nor has the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which funds NYCHA in part, sent federal contractors or generators to help coordinate this unacceptable human emergency.

Instead, thousands of individual volunteers, and community-organizing and health organizations like Occupy Sandy, Children’s Health Fund, Masbia Soup Kitchen, Red Hook Initiative, Make the Road NY, CAAAV, Doctor’s Without Borders (launching it’s first effort ever within the United States), and numerous religious institutions have tried to fill in where Mayor Bloomberg and NYCHA have failed NYC residents in desperate need.

CALL MAYOR BLOOMBERG TODAY: 212-NEW-YORK (212-639-9675). Tell him the response has been unacceptable.

CALL HUD’s NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS TODAY: (202) 708-1112. Tell Secretary Shaun Donovan that their response has been unacceptable.

Sign this petition

Nov 13 2012

When Will the Recovery Reach the Poor?

On his show AC 360°, host Anderson Cooper interviewed Sophie Delaunay, the executive Director of Doctors Without Borders, on the organizations efforts to aid victims of Hurricane Sandy, especially in the Rockaways.

“We learned our lessons from Katrina when we thought the medical needs would be covered, and when we realized there were gaps it was too late for us to react,” says Sophie Delaunay.

She tells Anderson the most challenging place right now is the Rockaways in Queens where people who need help are homebound in high-rise apartment buildings and have had little contact with the outside world since they lost their electricity. The group is helping with a variety of needs, but 60% of the consultations are to assist with prescription refills.

NYCHA head tells tenants who are still without power that they’ll get a credit for their troubles – in January

by Greg B. Smith at New York Daily News

Calls it a ‘nice little Christmas present’ but has no answers for residents still struggling two weeks after Hurricane Sandy

Public tenants without heat, hot water and power for weeks will still have cough up their full rent before getting a credit in January – a refund that NYCHA Chairman John Rhea called “a nice little Christmas present.”

Rhea made the Scrooge-esque comment Monday when he showed up at the Red Hook Houses in Brooklyn, where tenants have lived in deplorable conditions since Hurricane Sandy hit Oct. 29.

He told one tenant, “Hang in there.” [..]

When Rhea showed up in Red Hook Monday, 4,015 residents there were still without heat and hot water and 2,125 were without power. Twenty-two of the project’s 32 buildings were either without heat and hot water or power. [..]

As of Monday, 4,400 NYCHA tenants in Red Hook, Coney Island and Far Rockaway, Queens, were still without power, while 18,000 residents in 14 developments in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan still had no hot water or heat.

NYCHA turned off elevators, hot water and heat two days before the storm hit in 26 low-lying developments near waterfronts and ordered tenants to evacuate.

Occupy Sandy Volunteer Sounds Alarm on ‘Humanitarian Crisis,’ Near-Complete Absence of Government Aid in Coney Island Projects

by Daniel Marans at Huffington Post

The situation in public housing projects in Coney Island, Brooklyn remains a “humanitarian crisis” in which the government and the Red Cross have been nearly completely absent, according to Eric Moed, a volunteer aid worker with Occupy Sandy. [..]

The projects in Coney Island remain without power, and often without water and necessities in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Accounts of these conditions have been corroborated in the New York Daily News.

Moed says all of the supermarkets on Coney Island have been flooded or looted.

The result is what Moed describes as a “humanitarian crisis.” Sick or older people may be vulnerable to death without heat, or food and water.

Moed routinely meets elderly residents who have been trapped alone in their dark, cold apartments since the storm hit. The elevators often do not work, and residents willing to brave the stairwells face darkness, human waste, and even crime. [..]

Whatever response there has been from the government — city, state, or federal — or the Red Cross, Moed says their presence in and around the Coney Island projects is non-existent, inadequate, or counterproductive. FEMA has set up a solitary aid trailer on what Moed calls the “sexy area” of Coney Island — near the famous amusement park and Nathan’s — which was not hit very hard. It awaits people seeking help, when those who most need it are stranded in high-rise buildings a few blocks away.

Moed insists that he does not assume anything about the government and Red Cross’s lack of a response, but says their absence is indisputable. “They’re literally not there. It’s not a criticism, it’s literally a fact,” he said. “I’ve been on the ground here for four days. I’ve seen zero FEMA people. Occasionally a Red Cross truck will come through with hot meals. But there’ll be one truck for 15-20 buildings.” [..]

The absence of government or Red Cross presence has left a vacuum of authority and accountability at a time when stranded residents are seeking it most. “The projects have had nobody to talk to,” Moed says. “People literally have no power, no food, no water, no bathrooms–they’re defecating in buckets. And there is no one to answer to for it.” For lack of a higher-level city government presence, presidents of public housing blocks with few resources have been left to address residents’ grievances. [..]

To donate to the Sandy relief effort, visit OccupySandy.org