LES Ready! — Planning For the Next Superstorm (A Month-Long Series)

This month, New Yorkers will be looking back and remembering the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy, which came ashore October 29 one year ago.  On the Lower East Side, there’s an organization called the Long Term Recovery Group that’s doing more than reflecting; they’re developing plans to make sure this neighborhood is better able to withstand for the next major storm. 

October 29, 2012; East River. Photo by Anna Angelidakis.

October 29, 2012; East River. Photo by Anna Angelidakis.

Today the coalition and The Lo-Down are kicking off a month-long series (The LES Ready! GUIDE) focused on recovery from Sandy and preparations for future natural disasters.  In this space, coalition members will explain some of their initiatives and offer common-sense tips for residents and local businesses. Beginning tomorrow, you’ll be able to read all of their stories in one place — at thelodownny.com/les-ready.  This morning, we begin with Michael Callaghan of Nazareth Housing, who helps us set the stage:

It all began when Superstorm Sandy made its way to New York and the Lower East Side.  With the loss of power, water, communications and heat, residents, businesses and organizations across Lower East Side neighborhoods turned to one another to find a way through the disaster.  From this “boots on the ground” experience of so many groups responding to the needs of neighbors and neighborhoods, the Long Term Recovery Group was born.  Our first meeting took place March 11, 2013 hosted at the Chinese-American Planning Council.

Since that time, the Lower East Side Long Term Recovery Group (LES LTRG) has grown into a coalition of over 70 community groups and institutions.  Our commitment to the neighborhoods and one another is that we will work to cooperatively coordinate our response, resources, preparedness, planning and training not only in relation to Sandy and its aftermath but in future disaster situations as well.  There are currently four working committees: Disaster Preparedness; Case Management/Unmet Needs; Resources; Executive.  Committees meet every two weeks and the full group meets every month.

With a focus on Manhattan’s Community Board 3 area and the immediately adjacent neighborhoods that our groups may serve, the LTRG has recently taken on the name: LES Ready!  We work to ready our selves, our organizations and our neighborhoods for advocacy, future disasters and to sustain the response and rebuilding needed as a result of Sandy.

LES Ready! is inclusive and open to community groups, organizations, and institutions that want to be actively involved in planning, advocacy and responding to disaster related issues. We seek to ensure that all stakeholders, especially the most vulnerable in the community are prepared, trained for and recover from disaster.

The coalition is open to a variety of groups including: nonprofits, tenant organizations, small businesses, HDFCs, governmental agencies, political leaders, and national groups.  Membership can be voting or non-voting.  All groups are asked to identify what resources they bring to support the common effort.

LES Ready! is launching a website and Facebook page that will provide information for members and the general public on Sandy on disaster preparedness and community resources.

As the anniversary of Sandy approaches, LES Ready demonstrates the resilience of the Lower East Side.  Together we make a way when challenges arise.  Together we help rebuild and recover.  Together we advocate for resources and public policy that makes the Lower East Side, where we live and work, safer now and in the future.

For more information on how to become involved please contact Lilah Mejia at  lilah@goles.org.