A New York Times investigation has found that NYCHA was overwhelmed by Hurricane Sandy, and left elderly and other residents stranded for weeks without heat, food or medicine. One person died falling down wet stairs, several suffered carbon monoxide poisoning from heating their apartments with the oven, and others suffered ill health by going without crucial medications.
An examination by The New York Times has found that while the agency moved aggressively before the storm to encourage residents to leave, particularly those who were disabled and the needy, both it and the city government at large were woefully unprepared to help its residents deal with Hurricane Sandy’s lingering aftermath. The city, which did not enforce its mandatory evacuation order, could not assess the medical needs of residents stuck atop darkened, freezing towers until nearly two weeks after the storm. It relied on ragtag bands of volunteers who quickly found themselves overwhelmed by the task of reaching, comforting and caring for trapped residents. And the seemingly simplest things, like towing portable lighting towers into the Red Hook public housing complex, took 11 days, all because the housing authority had not properly prepared for a major disaster.
The report found that the city in 2009 recommended NYCHA elevate critical equipment stored in basements and set up standby contracts for emergencies, but the recommendations were never carried out, perhaps for lack of funds. Above, temporary boiler installation at the Red Hook Houses after the hurricane.
Housing Agency’s Flaws Revealed by Storm [NY Times]
Photo by NYCHA