Power Still Out at Knickerbocker Village; Situation Called an “Emergency”
The situation at Knickerbocker Village, the historic affordable housing complex on Monroe Street, is growing increasingly serious today. As we reported yesterday, many of the 1600 or so apartments still have no electric power, heat or hot water. An electrical fire that followed Con Ed’s restoration of power Friday is the culprit. Hamilton Madison House, a non-profit with close ties to Knickerbocker Village, set up daytime shelter at 50 Madison Street (in the Smith Houses), and local elected officials have been working to supply blankets and hot meals.
This morning we spoke with Hamilton Madison House’s Vicki Mehmel, who’s coordinating efforts on behalf of the apartment building’s residents. She said engineers have restored partial power to four of 12 buildings. They were hoping to have the entire east side of the complex online by the end of the week, but hopes are fading that it will happen. Mehmel said it’s possible the west side of Knickerbocker Village will be without power for up to three weeks (we’re working on confirming this). The problem, she said, is that there’s still up to 25 feet of water in the mechanical and boiler rooms.
Yesterday Mehmel and others met with representatives from the mayor’s office, FEMA and the Red Cross about converting the Madison Street community center into an official, city-backed 24-hour shelter. But she was told the facility is too small and lacks the infrastructure to handle hurricane evacuees. There is, hard as it might be to imagine, no city-run 24 shelter on the Lower East Side; residents in this neighborhood are being bused to a facility in Washington Heights.
Hamilton Madison House has a list of about 25 home-bound seniors in need of attention. A FEMA team was on site last night to make sure they were okay. They also dispatched three canteen trucks and brought in more volunteers. Mehmel said there are up to 700 residents of Knickerbocker Village age 60 or older. The Two Bridges Neighborhood Council has also been helping deal with the situation. A short time ago, Two Bridges President Victor Papa said the scenario at Knickerbocker Village is “an emergency” that required a drastic solution, if necessary. He went so far as to suggest that the National Guard should potentially be brought in to evacuate high-risk tenants and bring them to a Coast Guard cutter or some other facility.
If you would like to donate money, resources or time to this effort, email Vicki Mehmel at email@example.com.
More to come…