Celebrate Halloween and Community at Pier 42, While Recalling Hurricane Sandy

Paths to Pier 42 spring celebration, 2015.

Paths to Pier 42 spring celebration, 2015.

Last we heard, work was scheduled to begin early next year for the transformation of Pier 42. The area just below East River Park will one day become a new recreational space overseen by the NYC Parks Department. In the meantime, community groups are trying to keep Pier 42 in the public eye. Their next event, a Halloween celebration, takes place this coming weekend.

The event coincides with the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Sandy. So Saturday’s waterfront festival is called, “Sandyween.” There will be a Halloween costume contest, a dance contest, face painting and a walking tour to learn about coastal flood protection (here’s info about the walking tour). You can stop by any time Saturday between noon and 4 p.m.  The celebration is co-hosted by Paths to Pier 42, a coalition that advocates for waterfront resources; and LES Ready, the community organization created in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.


East Side resiliency has been in the news this week. Sociologist Eric Klinenberg wrote a piece for Wired that looked at the importance of strong communities in overcoming devastating natural disasters. Community-based organizations on the Lower East Side have won widespread praise for their quick response to Sandy. They were the real “first responders” in the hours and days after the big storm.

A multi-million dollar project is now underway to protect the neighborhoods along the East River with a series of berms and levees. Klinenberg was the research director for Rebuild by Design, the federal competition to come up with the best flood mitigation schemes. In the article, he touted the ultimate vision, which offered protection for vulnerable residents, but also focused on increasing their access to the waterfront. Here’s part of what he had to say:

The portion of the design proposed for the Lower East Side—which is, for now, the only funded part of the project—lines the waterfront with lushly planted berms that give pedestrians easier access to a slew of amenities on the water’s edge. The berms, which are 18.5 feet at their peak, absorb storm surges when necessary, but their everyday function is just as important: serving as parklands and recreational areas for people who live in an especially gray and unpleasant part of an especially gray city… (The plan) could get steered off course. Late-­stage budget cuts could reduce the Lower East Side’s verdant berms to an ugly and imposing seawall, exactly the kind of project that Rebuild by Design was supposed to reject. But so far the plans have wide support from local and federal offices, and other cities around the world have taken notice.

You can read the full article here.

Velazquez Touts Renewal of Hurricane Sandy Disaster Loan Program

Rep. Nydia Velazquez and SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet joined AAFE staff and business owners yesterday.

Rep. Nydia Velazquez and SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet joined AAFE staff and business owners yesterday.

U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez and Maria Contreras-Sweet, administrator of the Small Business Administration, were in the neighborhood yesterday to talk up the rejuvenation of a Hurricane Sandy emergency loan program.

That’s right, three years after the big storm there’s a new push to aid businesses and homeowners who became frustrated in the aftermath of Sandy and never processed their applications. In an event at the headquarters of Asian Americans for Equality on Allen Street, they publicized the program, which was brought back to life late last year.

The SBA stopped taking applications in 2013. A report by the Government Accountability Office found that it took the feds as long as 45 days to approve or deny emergency loans. Legislation authored by Velazquez and enacted in November renewed the program. $3.4 million has been loaned in New York City since December.

At yesterday’s press event, the officials highlighted the case of Chinatown businessman Peter Li of  “47 Division Street Trading, Inc.” In the aftermath of Sandy, the poultry and meat supplier suffered losses of about $500,000. While AAFE’s Renaissance Economic Development Corp. provided a small emergency loan to the business, the SBA loan wasn’t processed for six months. On average, the government is now pushing through loans in eight days.

There was plenty of praise to go around yesterday for Velazquez and for AAFE. The SBA administrator presented AAFE with an award in recognition of the local non-profit’s longstanding partnership with the SBA.

You can learn more about the SBA Disaster Loan Program here.  Residents can receive up to $200,000 to repair physical damage — and $40,000 to replace personal belongings. Businesses and non-profits are eligible for up to $2 million.

Learning From Hurricane Sandy: LES Ready! Releases Report

Post-Sandy Small Business Loan & Grant Guidance Offered Beginning Wednesday, October 1

Tonight on the Lower East Side: Sandy Oversight Hearing

Sandy Oversight Hearing_Lower Manhattan

The public is invited to NYC Comptroller’s Hurricane Sandy oversight hearing tonight at Two Bridges Tower, 82 Rutgers Slip. The meeting begins at 7 p.m.

Rebuild by Design Proposals Unveiled April 3

New York Rising Meetings Coming Up March 1-2

ny rising meetings

The post-Hurricane Sandy initiative, New York Rising, is holding a series of meetings early next month. See the flyer above or check out the NY Rising web site for more information.


Three Months Later, Knickerbocker Village is Still Waiting For Sandy Money (Updated)

Knickerbocker Village Receives Hurricane Money; $5 Million More Needed For Storm-Proofing

Last night we reported that Knickerbocker Village, the affordable housing complex near the Manhattan Bridge, had been awarded $1.46 million in federal hurricane recovery funds.  More details were released a short time ago at a news conference on the Lower East Side.

Knickerbocker Village Will Receive $1.46 Million in Federal Recovery Money

Tomorrow -a day after the one year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy – city officials will finally announce that Knickerbocker Village has been awarded federal disaster aid.

One Year After Sandy on the Lower East Side

Here’s a look at some events and updated information regarding today’s one year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy.

Sandy Anniversary on Tuesday: Social Justice Forum, Candlelight Vigil

This coming Tuesday is the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy.  Among the events to mark the occasion is a forum featuring experts and community leaders at University Settlement.

Sandy One Year Later: Knickerbocker Village Lags in Recovery; Progress Elsewhere

The following story first appeared in the October 2013 edition of The Lo-Down’s print magazine.

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. 

Knickerbocker Village Tenants Denied FEMA Benefits

Knickerbocker Village.

Knickerbocker Village, the historic affordable housing complex, was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, and some residents there are still struggling to bounce back from the devastating storm. This afternoon, local elected officials released a letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) urging a reversal of its decision to deny aid to some Knickerbocker Village tenants.

Following the storm, electrical power, heat and other services were out for more than two weeks.  Today’s letter from State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, City Council member Margaret Chin and State Senator Dan Squadron stated:

In multiple meetings, as well as at a public forum we hosted for residents, representatives from FEMA told Knickerbocker residents they were eligible for reimbursement for their hotel expenses. Since that time, FEMA has rejected claims from several residents. We believe that these residents are in fact eligible under the guidelines that FEMA laid out and we ask that you re-evaluate all rejected claims from Knickerbocker Village. Some residents are also seeking reimbursement for property damage and medical expenses and we urge you to review those claims as well.