ANHD is working with funders, city agencies and non-profit organizations to coordinate services to victims of Hurricane Sandy. We hope you can take a moment to fill out this simple form – ANHD Sandy Survey - and return to email@example.com .
First and Best Responders:
Neighborhood Groups That Took On Sandy’s Challenges In Their Communities
Just as the impact of Super Storm Sandy was greater than many ever imagined, so too has been the response of neighborhood groups. Local community groups acted as crucial first responders often before overwhelmed government agencies and large scale charities were able to intervene. The impact of these groups, many of them relatively small, was tremendous, filling a significant infrastructure vacuum. Using deep knowledge of their neighborhoods and close connections with residents and business owners, neighborhood-based groups effectively assessed community needs, coordinated responses and delivered.
Here are just a few examples of those among ANHD’s member groups that ran to the rescue:
Asian Americans for Equality- For many homeowners who incurred damages as a result of Sandy, the cost of repairing and rebuilding is overwhelming. Likewise, for many small businesses the impact of Sandy has been devastating. Between storm damage and the displacement of their consumer base, many local businesses in the impacted areas are struggling to stay open; and some of these owners are also dealing with damage to their homes as well. In both cases, the owners will need funds to get their lives back on track. In response to the enormous need AAFE has initiated two emergency loan programs to help homeowners and small businesses throughout the five boroughs. So far the two programs have assisted 75 clients with a total of $1,500,000 in loans. For more information click here
Astella Development Corporation - An example of dedication and commitment. Astella, a Coney Island based organization, like many of their neighbors, lost everything. After being submerged under five feet of water the organizations entire office was destroyed and nearly its entire staff displaced. Rather than abandoning their community to rebuild, Astella staff have dug in to help. Operating out of a local funeral home, Astella staff are coordinating with local allies, FEMA and NYC government officials to help local businesses, tenants and homeowners register with FEMA and get much needed storm recovery aid. Astella has convened owners and residents, conducted a local needs assessment survey and is helping the Coney Island community determine its next steps in the long road to recovery.
Fifth Avenue Committee- In the days immediately after the storm, before government services truly arrived, Red Hook was literally in the dark. Traveling was nearly impossible. Many apartment buildings in the affected areas were left completely neglected. But in the buildings owned by one of the local community not-for-profits, the Fifth Avenue Committee, staff worked around-the-clock from Day 1 – starting with one staff member driving to one of the buildings in the middle of the storm because residents who didn’t evacuate were scared of water rushing in. FAC staff continued through the days to come, staying side by side with residents making sure they and the buildings were safe, while also advocating for increased police and National Guard presence for the entire community, and working tirelessly to pump the water out of buildings and get their systems back on-line. FAC has already relocating tenants from their affected buildings in Gowanus who were displaced, and are preparing to house additional Sandy survivors.
Good Old Lower East Side- Like neighboring communities in lower Manhattan, the Lower East Side was hit hard by Sandy. Fortunately GOLES, an established organization with deep connections to the community, was in place to take action. GOLES mobilized and coordinated thousands of volunteers to canvass the public housing , section 8 and private high-rise buildings hardest hit by the storm, climbing through pitch-black stairwells with flashlights to check on seniors and other vulnerable families to make sure they had all the food, water, flashlights, blankets, and medicine they needed. Using their organizing skills and intimate knowledge of the community, they were able to coordinate all of this work even while the GOLES office had no phones, power or internet and while half of the staff had no power, water or heat in their own homes. Given the conditions, GOLES and its allies learned to be innovative, creating a “Bicycle Express”; volunteers on bicycles passed messages between organizations who, without landlines, internet and only spotty cell phone service, couldn’t communicate.
Make The Road New York- Make the Road has been a key advocate for immigrants and limited English proficient residents impacted by Super Storm Sandy. Utilizing canvasing capacity developed from voter registration and education work, MRNY staff were able to connect storm survivors to their new polling sites, deliver supplies door-to-door, registering people for FEMA aid, helping people determine eligibility for additional help, and where immigration status may prevent them from accessing public aid, supplying mini-grants from private sources. All four of MRNY’s offices are also open as warming and information centers for people to get hot food, coffee, supplies and charge cell phones. MRNY has a full-time case worker in each Staten Island and Long Island office to provide counsel on accessing aid and determining rights on eviction and employment cases related to the storm. MRNY is also working in coordination with elected officials to get help to the Rockaways in Queens.
Pratt Area Community Council – Immediately after the storm PACC began reviewing their portfolio and preparing to make vacant units available for storm recovery purposes. PACC is collecting donated supplies and clothing and coordinating staff volunteers to help with relief efforts. PACC is also working to dedicate some vacant apartments to relief workers needing a place to stay overnight and get cleaned up. Experienced mental health clinicians on PACC’s staff have been made available to work at shelters and PACC’s office are being used as drop off locations for donations.
Queens Congregations United for Action- QCUA is addressing the needs of sandy survivors for both direct services and advocacy. QCUA is recruiting and coordinating volunteers from faith-based institutions, delivering food and supplies. QCUA has pulled in 10 additional organizers from the PICO network to help with canvassing. QCUA has organized faith leaders to push for services for impacted communities in the Rockaways and hold responsible agencies accountable for the slow return of services.
St. Nicks Alliance-Like similar community development corporations, St. Nicks is working to making vacant units available for New Yorkers displaced by Super Storm Sandy. St. Nicks has also focused a great deal of attention on assessing the needs of impacted small business and helping struggling owners access recovery aid.
Come back: We’ll add to this list as recovery stories emerge