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Power Still Out at Knickerbocker Village; Situation Called an “Emergency”

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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 vickimehmel@hmhonline.org.

More to come…


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  1. thank you so much for this – there was no one giving residents and the community an update. once again, your reporting is invaluable,

  2. I agree. It’s deplorable how little media attention this is receiving when there are so many NYers being directly affected by it, particularly seniors. It was bad, it was even worse over there last night, and it’s just declining rapidly. Something has to be done!

  3. Hi- I have emailed Vicki- I have a group of women ready and set to help out with this- if you have any other information on who we should be in touch with for this effort please let me know- thanks- Allegra

  4. maybe if knickerbocker wasn’t “pumping” out water with 1 damn baby hose we would have some serious progress right now. we don’t need evacuations, we need actual HELP getting thru power back on ASAP. get outside help getting the water OUT and getting everything running not taking people out and putting them in temp homes. I can’t believe every day I walk out of this complex and still see their 1 little hose trying to take out 25 feet of water. its ridiculous and cheap. were dying over here. help us get power back

  5. The lack of communication from the building’s management group to the tenants is shameful. There has been 0 updates or news from the management group. Keep the people informed so appropriate actions can be taken. Enough of the guessing games and rumor-ville bullcrap.

  6. Knickerbocker Village’s Landlord is James Simmons at Area Property Partners. His work number is 212-515-3400 and his home number is 212-862-3185. Call him please and put pressure on him.

  7. I totally agree with everyone here. The lack of attention from the management office has been astounding. And yes thank you sooo much for writing this article…makes me feel like I’m not going crazy!

  8. Perhaps a dumb question, but is there anything regular volunteers can do to help alleviate the basement flooding situation, like a bucket assembly line?

  9. Absolutely. There has been a 2 inch hose operating for 9 days. No one thinks to get a bigger pump? Par for the course at Knickerbocker Village.

    No one else has mentioned that building management is responsible for this outage by letting the power stay on while salt water is still in the electrical system. There needs to be some type of accountability here….

  10. can someone post the number and name of the council person responsible for the KV area? We need some representation and hopefully get bigger hoses and pumps

  11. Today the owner of KV stood in the middle of one of the courtyards and reminded them they still have to pay their rent on time. The management in KV is deplorable. They break the law in so many ways, and don’t care about the people who live there. They were told to shut down power two house before NYC lost power and they did not. This is why this issue happened. My mother has no hot water no power, it’s bone chilling cold, and nobody cars or is doing anything.

  12. Thanks for posting. It is a mockery and ulterior disgusting that we have to hear news about our residence not from OUR management but a third party news blog. I am appalled by the lack of communication from our management stuff during the week of hurricane sandy and even the week after. It took over 9 days to hear anything about our situation. Please reach out to our local representative and local news media. This problem needs to solved immediately. There are so many senior citizens and young children that are going day in and day out without proper heating, hot water and power.. This can’t go on much longer. Sprea the word .. We need help!!

  13. Hi Rubin, really? James Simmons himself stood there not to give us information on the repairs or offer help but to remind us to pay rent?!

  14. What about this violation of several Landlord-Tenant laws including warranting that the apartment is to be livable and to provider heat and hot water?? We need to generate a list and have tenants petition the court to reduce rent payments for days if not weeks the apartment has violating this livable stanard

  15. I will do the same. I’ve also emailed NY1, Senator Schumer and Mayor Bloomberg with all articles and information I could. The more this spreads, the better

  16. Has anyone contacted the Knickerbocker Village Tenant Association or know how to contact them? Are they involved? They successfully reached out to public officials and the media to “persuade” management to make amends several years ago without setting foot into the courtroom.

  17. I started the petition on change.org. and embedded the link in a previous reply, just waiting for the moderators to approve.

  18. Already wrote to Help Me Howard afew days ago. Hope this situation really get some big media attention and put James Simmons on blast.

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