Report: NYCHA Needs to Gear Up for the Next Sandy

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Katia Savchuk/City Limits

Vanessa Vanderhorst, 50, enters the living room of an elderly woman in the Alfred E. Smith Houses in Lower Manhattan during a NYCHA mold-remediation effort in late 2012.
Jose Maldonado wasn't introduced to mold after Superstorm Sandy. But he was invaded by it.

In his apartment at NYCHA's Gravesend Houses in Coney Island, Maldonado had mold in his closet that moved to his ceiling. "[NYCHA] came out to fix the mold. But all they did was paint over it," Maldonado writes in a report out this week. "After Sandy, the mold grew faster and seemed to be the worst on days that we were without heat for a long amount of time, which was sometimes three or more days. It spread to cover the ceiling throughout the house, into my closet and all over my clothes. It was so bad that I lost all of my clothes. In my kids’ room it had worked its way down the walls and I had to remove furniture and mattresses."

Reporter's Notebook: Red Hook

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Charles Denson/City Limits

Footage from Coney Island History Project director Charles Denson of Sandy hitting the Brooklyn coast.
On Saturday, the temperature felt at least 10 degrees colder in Red Hook.

The Joseph Miccio Community Center on West 9th Street seemed the hub for Red Hook residents to retrieve food and supplies. Hundreds were in line to receive aid. The Red Hook Initiative (RHI), local churches and members of Occupy Wall Street, have been leading in the relief efforts.

“We’ve received towels, blankets, baby items, toiletries, canned foods, cleaning supplies and more," said Kristen Ball, a volunteer. "Some of the power has been coming up. Red Hook houses is one of the largest NYCHA development in NYC with 2,000 apartments and 5,000 residents. I’m sure we’ve seen all the residents more than once since we’ve been set up here. We have seen many elderly people with heat issues and many of them suffer from diabetes, so we brought in coolers to keep their insulin cold. We make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the kids and we just want to get food in those little bellies. We are accepting clothing and blankets and sending the surplus over to Staten Island and Far Rockaway.”

Post-Sandy Housing Crisis: 4 Years Ago, NYC Asked 'What If?'

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OEM/City Limits

One winning design, by Matthew Francke and Katya Hristova, called for bringing in modular housing by barge, and anchoring the structures side-by-side to create a temporary neighborhood.
What if the most densely residential city in the country loses hundreds of thousands of homes in a few hours? What if millions are left with nowhere to live, to work, or to go to school? What if subways flood, streets close, and whole neighborhoods are submerged by up to 23 feet of ocean water and battered by 130 mile-per-hour winds? What if New Yorkers need a place to live during years of reconstruction?

Such was the set-up to a design competition sponsored by New York's Office of Emergency Management in 2008 called “What If NYC?” that attracted entrants from around the world to share proposals for how the city could house thousands of people quickly and close to where they lived before a disaster.

Find Your Post-Sandy Voting Site

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NYC BOE/City Limits

The board of elections has relocated dozens of polling sites across the five boroughs as it prepares for a presidential election in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Click here for a full list of the changes, which Mayor Bloomberg on Sunday said could affect 143,000 voters.

You can also text “NYCVOTES” to 877-877 to get updates on polling place changes.

City Limits will provide extensive coverage of voting in the Bronx on Election Day.

Why NYC Is So Vulnerable to Hurricanes

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OEM/City Limits

Big Bight, Big City: The unique curvature of the metropolitan region's coastlne is one reason why New York is considered especially vulnerable to hurricanes.
There are a lot of reasons—of varying degrees of rationality—upon which people base their fear of New York City. Crime. Rats. Disease. Terrorism. Traffic. Hurricanes aren't usually among the nightmares associated with the nation's largest city.

But even though Miami gets the college football team and New Orleans the mixed drink, New York has long been considered among the most hurricane-vulnerable cities. By one ranking, it's the second-most at-risk city on the East Coast.

Decision in the Rockaways: Stay, or Go?

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Patrick Arden/City Limits

Regina Day and Mike Porter said this morning that they planned to stay in Rockaway.
In the calm before the storm early Saturday morning, Neville Plumber marched his family up Edgemere Avenue in Far Rockaway. With his wife and two sons behind him, Plumber pulled wheeled luggage and a leashed dog to the A train at Beach 36th Street.

The night before they had seen Mayor Michael Bloomberg on TV announcing the mandatory evacuation of their neighborhood before the arrival of Hurricane Irene. “We knew we better leave,” said Plummer, a cabdriver who walks with a cane. His wife’s mother would take them into her Flatbush home. Many of his neighbors, however, were staying put. “They think the mayor’s just trying to make up for missing the snowstorm last winter.”


Out of Media Glare, the Bronx Faces Irene

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Jarrett Murphy/City Limits

At PS 102 in Parkchester.
While southern Queens wears the yellow and amber code of the city's hurricane map like a sunburn, the Bronx's risk profile is like a minor case of acne--a few trouble spots on a skin of relative safety.

Even far outside of the Zone A areas, there were signs of the impending danger, though they were subtle. At Lehman College, one of the city's evacuation centers, miles from any of the evacuation zones, a police officer said at 1 p.m. that only two families had shown up to stay. Empty school buses stood out front. A few blocks away and a short time later at Dewitt Clinton High School, staff said that 18 people were there--one family of 13 among them. The sign-in table there included a sheet of rules that barred "alcohol, drugs and weapons." IS 201 in Hunts Point has capacity of 2,000, but only had one family registered as of 2:30 p.m. Nearby, an outdoor religious service boomed through a PA in Spanish and English.


As Mandatory Evacuation Ordered, Looking at NYC's Risk

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NYC/City Limits

In 2008 the New York City Office of Emergency Management administered a competition called "What If NYC" to solicit designs for large-scale post-disaster housing. Above, one of the entrants' visions.
The city of New York announced the first mandatory evacuation in its history this afternoon, with Mayor Bloomberg warning in a City Hall press conference: "This is very serious. Do not be fooled by the sun outside. It literally is the calm before the storm."

The evacuation order applies to all residents in the city's lowest-lying and most vulnerable coastal areas—those designated Zone A on the city's hurricane evacuation map, basically encompassing Coney Island and Manhattan Beach in Brooklyn, Broad Channel and the Rockaways in Queens, South Beach and Midland Beach in Staten Island, Battery Park City and small areas of City Island, Throggs Neck, Hunts Point and Highbridge in the Bronx. The city at 4 p.m. today is opening 91 emergency shelters for evacuees—who are supposed to be out of their neighborhoods by 5 p.m.