Public Housing Residents Still in Despair After Sandy

Monday, November 05, 2012

Large parts of the East Village appear to be back to normal with cafes open and young people back on the streets.  But at a public housing development on Avenue C, the desperation was palpable.

About 700 people live at Campos Plaza I, a tattered public housing development at the edge of the East Village. After Sandy, residents said floodwater filled the lobby of some of the buildings, reaching the raised first floor.  Ruhith Ahmad lives on the first floor with his mom. The two have electricity and gas. But no heat or hot water. The 13-year-old said his family has been boiling water to keep warm.

"We have little Poland Spring water bottles and we're filling them up with hot water and then we just put them in our blankets and stuff so we just surround ourselves with it," Ahmed said.  "It doesn't help that much but it's better than nothing."

At another building nearby volunteers with the group Good Old Lower East Side climbed up dark stairwells carrying bags of food. On the 17th floor they encountered Angelina Solano. The 71-year-old had just lugged up 4 gallons of water and was out of breath. She could barely speak.

"I no got water. No steam. I'm a sick person. I got problems," she said through tears. "My daughter she is not healthy. My husband is sick, too. This is terrible."

Solano explained the water was from a fire hydrant that someone had pried open. Her family was rationing it and didn't want to use the water to flush the toilets so now they said the bowl was full of excrement, which was stinking up the apartment.

On the 12th floor, 87-year-old Prudis Ortega hadn't left her apartment since the storm. "I've been very depressed and very scared," she said in Spanish.

The frail, white haired woman said her apartment was freezing. She answered the door wearing a ski cap. After the storm, she said the lights went out and she feared she had been left in the building alone. It’s a thought that still haunts her.

Because of osteoporosis, she said there's no way she can make it down the stairs. Several residents said they were too weak to leave.  

A spokesman for the utility, Con Edison, said the problem is that many buildings along Avenue C still have not been pumped out. That job, they said is the building owner’s responsibility. In this case, that means The New York City Housing Authority. NYCHA said thousands of employees were working to get developments up and running.  

Currently, 108 buildings at 17 developments remain without power. The authority said it's too early to tell where long-term outages may exist.


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Comments [11]

bk from Brooklyn, NY

High school students stressed by Sandy, including and especially those who live in public housing: Don't despair! Check out "Recover Writing" on Facebook. College and university writing centers across the country have volunteered to help you with any writing assignment; they're waiving their usual requirement, for you, and other HS and college students stressed by Sandy, that you be enrolled on their campus. This help is free, and it comes from accredited, nationally-known colleges and universities.
Check it out: On Facebook, search "Recover Writing," and choose the help that looks good to you. Some are close, or semi-close: FIT in Manhattan, for example; lots are offering help via phone, email, Skype, online interfaces. Take a look at the choices, and see what looks good to you. These folks really want to help you.
Facebook: "Recover Writing"
Or just paste in/click on:
And spread the word to your fellow students, okay?

Nov. 06 2012 10:28 PM
Luis E. Soltero

Good job Cindy!! I am one of the organizers that was briefing the volunteers on their duties on site. I am glad the volunteers are recognized in their efforts to help residents in the Lower East Side.

Nov. 06 2012 02:35 PM
mistersir418 from BROOKLYN

@Porky from Hell, u r one of the reasons why some mothers SHOULD'VE SWALLOWED INSTEAD OF GIVING BIRTH U DUMB AZZ!!!!,...

Nov. 05 2012 06:18 PM

Porky, you have NO CLUE who lives in those buildings and clearly no clue to their worth in our community. Our garden has multiple members there and they mean the world to us / me. I've flagged you and hope they remove your vile, spiteful post. You truly are a pig.

Nov. 05 2012 05:10 PM
Beverly McClain from NYC

OMG, Senora Ortega is a member of our community garden across the street. She is the matriarch of our group but I didn't know where she lived exactly and I've been worried about how she is. Is she OK now? I'm calling people down there immediately to try and get to her.

Nov. 05 2012 04:25 PM
Porky from Hell

Why should they warehouse tens of thousands of horrible Negroes and freeloaders in Manhattan? You deprive productive people of space and jack up the rent on the remaining housing. You have a million assholes with rent control or worse, on welfare. Ship them to the outer bouroughs.

Nov. 05 2012 03:47 PM

Phew, just got power and heat back. Don't let them use some disaster capitalism tactics to take over the public housing and turn it into luxury condos.

Nov. 05 2012 02:18 PM
Camille from New York, NY

I live close to that neighborhood. I would be happy to carry water up stairs or bring food. Please let me know what can I do/where do I go to help out.

Nov. 05 2012 02:07 PM

The senior housing of the NYCHA projects on the Lower East Side had no food or water until THursday - the National Guard showed up late Wednesday, but food/water wasn't distributed to apts. whose residents wouldn't open doors in pitch black hallways to strangers. By Thursday, volunteers hauled cases of water and food up stairs - 23 floors - to residents. Residents had no phone, radio, t.v. and were tearful and distraught.
Lights came on Friday night, but NO heat or hot water then or now - buildings are frigid. Many of the frail elderly have respiratory,cardiac, diabetic conditions which are easily exacerbated by the cold and stress. Some have been sent to
hospitals for pneumonia. Home attendants and home health aides are also cold and stressed.
One resident reported that the fire dept. reported a carbon monoxide level of 12 in one hallway, and advised residents to open the windows!

Nov. 05 2012 01:24 PM
joy from lower Manhattan

No steam is also an issue that seems to be under-reported. Granted, even though power has been restored in most of lower Manhattan, many of these apartements are heated by steam, not electricity. Thus, my apartment complex has not had heat nor hot water since Sandy's arrival-- Con Ed estimates resumption perhaps by November 11-- that will be 13 days without these services. THis is unacceptable and horrendous. Especially elderly residents, who may not be able to relocate to shelters or warming centers (most of which are only open during daytime)are at high risk. It seems that some type of political and or media influence needs to be exerted to encourage Con Ed to move faster. Con Ed claims it is a safety issue. Much is a safety issue, but that seems to be an excuse. What can be done to make this happen sooner than later???

Nov. 05 2012 09:29 AM
Brenda from New York City

Not surprisingly those most reliant on support will have the longest and most arduous recovery. I fear we will tire and lose interest before everyone has their life restored.

Nov. 05 2012 08:23 AM

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