The Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy: Tuesday Morning Update

FEMA officials met with Sheldon Silver and other local elected officials yesterday. Photo: New York State Assembly.

Here’s the latest information we have gathered this morning concerning the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy:

  • Unfortunately there’s not much new to report today regarding Con Ed’s efforts to restore steam to hundreds of buildings below 14th Street. Thousands of Lower East Side residents are still without heat and hot water four days after electric power was restored.  Some building managers hoped to have the heat back on yesterday, but now it’s looking as though Con Ed’s target date of November 11 (Sunday) might be more realistic.  Yesterday Governor Cuomo blasted Con Ed and other utilities for neglecting areas outside of Manhattan and for failing to communicate with its customers.   In the past 24 hours, local elected officials and non-profits have been knocking on doors of impacted buildings and handing out blankets supplied by FEMA.
  • A bit of semi-good news: forecasters are now saying a nor’easter expected to hit the region tomorrow night will likely not be as powerful as they originally feared. Some coastal flooding and high winds are still predicted, though.  The temperature will hover in the 30’s and low 40’s today and tomorrow. The storm will bring rain that will turn to snow on Thursday.

Tenement Museum Open For Tours Today

Our friends at the Tenement Museum are offering tours on a limited schedule today.   They write: Free Tenement Museum tours today, Saturday, November 3, for Lower East Side residents:  We’ve been through a lot together over the last several days. As you work to return your lives and your homes to normal, please feel welcome at our home, the Tenement Museum if you’ve got time to spare this afternoon. We’ll be offering tours today from 1- 6 p.m.

Lights On for the Lower East Side

The power is on along Delancey Street.

The power is back for much of the Lower East Side, as of a few minutes ago. We’re getting reports of streetlights along Delancey and many apartments with electricity humming. Con Edison says the area bounded by Canal Street on the south, Broadway on the west, the East River on the east and 14th Street on the north is all on the grid.

Sandy Aftermath: Help Arrives at Masaryk Towers

Masaryk’s board vice president Adeline Camacho and helper Marcus Liszkiewicz unload supplies for distribution.

On the 19th floor of Masaryk Towers, a six-buildng affordable-housing co-op on Columbia Street near the East River, one resident has been waiting out the storm’s aftermath alone in the dark and without insulin for her diabetes.

“I’ve never felt so helpless in my life,” said the woman, who gave her name only as Joan and said she has lived in the 1,110-unit complex since 1989. Her neighbors brought her some food, and she had water from the building’s supply for most of the week, but it cut off recently. She was unable to leave her apartment to get more medicine.

This morning, help for Joan and other home-bound residents of Masaryk Towers arrived in the form of a diverse band of volunteers and 120 military-style “meals-ready-to-eat.”

On Pitt Street, a Media Circus

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The food distribution site on Stanton Street is quite a scene at the moment. Lots of people receiving water, dry food, canned goods. All the TV stations are here, too, jockeying for position. A phone charging station will be set up here at around 3:30 pm.

Sandy Aftermath: Friday Morning Update

The National Guard delivered FEMA supplies to Grand Street near the co-ops yesterday afternoon. The effort resumes 1-5 p.m. today at five Lower East Side, East Village and Chinatown sites.

As Day 4 post-Sandy begins, relief efforts are picking up steam. If you are in a position to help around the neighborhood, see today’s how-to, posted below. In the meantime, we’re hoping the light at the end of the tunnel is even closer than it appears. Here’s what we know this morning.

Con Ed Promises Lights on by 11 p.m. Saturday

Lower East Side and East Village residents have begun receiving robocalls from Con Edison late this afternoon, in which a recorded voice says that electricity will be restored to our area by 11 p.m. Saturday night.

As of 11 a.m. today, 650,000 Con Ed customers were still in the dark after the unprecented damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. From a Con Ed public statement a little while ago:

Customers served by underground networks in Mid- to Lower Manhattan who lost power during the storm will have service by this Saturday.

Crews restoring service in those underground areas have pumped massive amounts of water out of the facilities. They must also clean all components of the seawater from the equipment. Equipment must be dried, repaired or replaced, and inspected before it can be safely put back into service.

 

Aid Distribution for LES & Chinatown: Long Delays

Grand and Suffolk streets this afternoon.

We’re on the scene at distribution points for food and water across the Lower East Side and Chinatown this afternoon, and at two of the three sites we visited, the promised supplies have yet to show up for a planned 3 p.m. start time. Along Grand Street in front of the Seward Park Co-op, a long line had already formed in advance, and one of two planned supply trucks eventually arrived. However, at Confucious Plaza, several hundred people gathered and waited more than an hour before beginnning to drift away, empty-handed, when no help arrived. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Council Member Margaret Chin spoke to residents and reporters about the aid effort, which includes a million meals and bottled water from FEMA, as well as additional help from many community organizations in both neighborhoods, but the cause of the holdup was unclear. The scene was similar, but with bigger crowds, at the Smith Houses at Cherry and Monroe streets, where a crowd stretched for several blocks, almost to the river. At 4:30 p.m., most of the residents remained in line, hopeful.

The cavalry arrived on Grand Street a short time ago.

More photos after the jump.

Sandy Aftermath: Thursday Morning Update

Orchard Street at Canal, looking north, Tuesday night around 8 p.m.

On Day 3 post-Sandy, the LES remains in the dark and attention begins to turn to stretching provisions, caring for our most vulnerable elderly populations and keeping bored children occupied. Hang on tight, everybody, and please check on your neighbors, particularly if you’re in high-rises with large numbers of senior citizens who are house-bound by lack of elevators. Here’s what we know this morning.

Speaker Silver Sets Up Mobile Office on Grand Street

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Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s staff has just set up a mobile office on Grand Street between Lewis and Jackson. You can come by to charge your cell phone. There’s also water available and staffers are on hand to answer questions from constituents.

Lower East Side Bar Crawl: Post-Sandy Style

Forgtmenot co-owner Abby Sierros was serving up candlelight, cold draft beer and steak frites last night.

The streets were dark and quiet last night, as most Lower East Side residents huddled in their homes or fled to friends and relatives, but for those who ventured out post-superstorm Sandy, food, drink and comaraderie were on tap at several bars and restaurants. Just as many locally owned coffee shops were functioning while Starbucks all over town remained locked up tight, the establishments that opened their doors to their neighbors last night were generally the ones owned by the neighbors. There were no honking taxis or stretch limos dropping off stiletto-clad visitors from outside the LES, no DJs on the scene, just locals chilling out with each other and killing time until life gets back to normal.

169 Bar on East Broadway ran a small generator and a big party.

At 169 bar on East Broadway shortly after 7 p.m., the beer-and-a-shot $3 happy hour special was flowing freely to patrons relieved to get out of the house for a while, and pleasantly surprised to find generator-powered lights, plenty of company and even a little food. At Forgetmenot on Division Street, co-owners Abbie and Paul Sierros had a system. Abbie was behind the candelabra-lit bar, cheerfully offering to cook anything from the remaining contents of her refrigerator: steak, french fries and eggs. Meanwhile, Paul kept the power coming via a long extension cord plugged into an electrical inverter in a van parked out front.

After the Storm: Henry St. Settlement Serving Elderly

Vladeck Houses, earlier today.

This was the scene outside the Vladeck public housing complex on Henry Street about an hour ago.  The Henry Street Settlement had some hot dogs and hamburgers left over from a recent community day, so staff fried them up and offered a hot lunch to local residents.   Today we caught up with David Garza, who’s executive director at Henry Street, one of the neighborhood’s largest social service providers.

The organization serves thousands of seniors at local community centers and operates several senior housing facilities. Garza said 83 families were evacuated from the Urban Family center, a shelter near FDR Drive.   People were also evacuated from Helen’s House, a facility on Henry Street for single moms and kids under the age of eight.

Sandy Aftermath: Wednesday Morning Report

After Sandy – a tree down on Rivington.

It’s Halloween Day in Lower Manhattan, but the annual costume parade in the Village is just one of the many casualties of Hurricane Sandy’s visit to the city this week. Many other events are canceled, including parties at the New Museum and the Museum of the Chinese in America. Here’s what else we know this morning.

Power: Con Ed is still estimating three more days until restoration (sometime this weekend).

Transportation: MTA buses began running on the LES yesterday afternoon about 4:30 p.m. They remain fare-free today. Subways remain shuttered “until further notice.” Newark airport opened this morning. JFK is scheduled to open at noon today. LaGuardia, with flooded runways, remains closed. Taxis and livery cars are operating and picking up multiple passengers for ride sharing.

Groceries/supplies/restaurants: Fine Fare on Clinton was selling groceries on its doorstep as of late yesterday afternoon. A bodega on Division Street was open yesterday evening, using power from a van parked outside its door. Several local bars and restaurants were open last night; we’ll have a story with details later.

Aid: A new effort backed by Occupy NYC organizers is rallying volunteers and donations to help the LES recover. More info here.

800 People at Seward Park Shelter; Generator Brought In to Boost Power

Here’s a photo Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer tweeted from the Seward Park shelter earlier today.  About 800 people were taking refuge in the high school as of this afternoon.  The shelter only had partial power; officials were able to locate a generator so hopefully conditions will improve.

 

Call For Help: Support For Seniors Living in Two Bridges Towers

New Yorkers are now facing the reality that it could be several days before electric power is restored in Lower Manhattan.  In our neighborhood, with its heavy concentration of seniors,  there’s growing concern this afternoon about getting help to elderly residents coping with this week’s ordeal.  At 80 Rutgers Street, a building with a lot of older tenants, the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council is putting out a call for help.  There are at least 50 people in the buildings, located on the East River, who are in need of food, water and emergency phone service to call loved ones.  Two Bridges has been in contact with local elected officials to request Red Cross and/or FEMA assistance in the area.  If you’re able to help, send us an email at tips@thelodownny.com and we’ll pass your information along.