Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc and destruction to many Community Access facilities throughout the city. Those most adversely affected were in the borough of Manhattan below 40th Street, although sites in the Bronx also experienced power and computer outages.
Community Access moved quickly to muster resources and staff. After setting up a storm crisis center at East Village Access (EVA), senior management met every morning to pool resources, prioritize our response efforts, and deploy staff to insure the health, welfare and safety of our residents and clients.
|The day after Hurricane Sandy hit, one of many 'storm crisis center' meetings.|
My priority and mission was assisting the residents at 258 East 4th Street, the first supportive building built by the organization in 1992. Upon arrival there, it was clear the tenants had already started their own storm recovery. The first thing I noticed were tenants assisting staff in watching the front doors of the building, as the locks were not engaged due to the power loss, and with the streets very dark at night. Many families and supported tenants had cooked food for the more vulnerable tenants. Everyone was also checking-in on each other throughout the day and night.
Community Access was quickly able to augment the tenants' efforts with more staff presence, food deliveries and supplies, including blankets, batteries and flashlights. I personally made daily rounds to every unit, taking notice of tenants who were either not at home or unresponsive. I also checked the food, medicine and flashlight status of each tenant. Where folks had mobility issues, resources were delivered to their doors. Thankfully, every supported tenant was accounted for and safe.
|Over at Gouverneur Court, MasterChef Luca Manfe and his wife Cate helped out by delivering trays of homemade food.|
I came away from this disaster with enhanced respect for all our tenants. People pooled their resources and time to best serve their building community at large. They showed care and compassion to their neighbors in need, and lifted the spirit of all tenants in the building. As the saying goes and Sandy proved, New Yorkers are a tough group of people.