Yesterday we paid a visit to the Rutgers Houses on Madison Street, which has become a mini-command center for the New York City Housing Authority’s hurricane recovery efforts. Volunteers, including City Council staff members, were writing out notices for tenants by hand, since there’s obviously no copying machines downtown. That’s NYCHA board member Margarita Lopez standing at the end of the table. She took a few moments to talk with us about the work being done to get the Lower East Side’s public housing developments through the crisis that followed Hurricane Sandy.
There’s a large generator at Rutgers, powering overhead lights on the first floor and making it possible to restore water service. The Smith, Baruch, Wald and Riis Houses also are getting generators. Lopez said salt water is being pumped from the bottom of the elevator shafts so that the elevators can go on line soon after Con Ed restores electric power.
With the help of non-profit organizations such as University Settlement, meals have been delivered to elderly residents in several buildings. Lopez said most people in need of medical attention were successfully moved out before the storm. Unfortunately, many able bodied tenants stayed, in violation of the mayor’s evacuation order. “This is what’s causing most of the problems we’re dealing with now,” she said.
Lopez said NYCHA has been working closely with local elected officials throughout the recovery effort.