Hurricane Sandy has come and gone.
Many of us in Central Brooklyn were spared the worst of the damages. However, several thousand New Yorkers were not.
Great work has been undertaken in assisting those who lost their homes, power or electricity due to the storm. The shelters are well-staffed and they have food.
But according to State Assemblyman Chris Owens, shelter volunteers are reporting that folks still need basics: underwear, shirts, sweaters, cough drops, games, entertainment, bras, hygienic products, etc.
Many of the temporary residents are depressed: There is no real entertainment, no books, nothing to "pass the time."
The kitchen staff at these shelters also need relief. They have been on their feet all day.
Sweaters are needed; senior citizens are cold. Phones and/or computers are needed to enable people to make out-of-state calls. And some shelters -- like those in Fort Greene -- need Spanish speakers.
If you think you can be of assistance, drop in and make sure they use you well! :)
- NYC Technical College, 300 Jay Street
- Park Slope Armory, 361 15th Street
- J.H.S. 57, 125 Stuyvesant Avenue
- I.S. 111, 35 Starr Street
- I.S. 117, 300 Willoughby Avenue
- I.S. 136, 4004 4th Avenue
- P.S. 189, 1100 East New York Avenue
- I.S. 246, 72 Veronica Place
- P.S. 249, 18 Marlborough Road
- I.S. 271, 1137 Herkimer Street
- I.S. 55, 2021 Bergen Street
- I.S. 292, 300 Wyona Street
- I.S. 383, 1300 Greene Avenue
- Franklin K. Lane High School, 999 Jamaica Avenue
- Brooklyn Tech High School, 29 Fort Greene Place
- Boys & Girls High School, 1700 Fulton Street
- John Jay High School, 237 7th Avenue
- Bushwick High School, 400 Irving Avenue
- I.S. 187, 1171 65th Street
- Franklin D. Roosevelt High School, 5800 20th Avenue
- Clara Barton High School, 901 Classon Avenue
SANDY SHELTER UPDATE as of November 1, 1:15p.m.
The following is an update from Assemblyman Chris Owens, recent feedback he has received from the shelters:
1. There is no network of shelter phone numbers for volunteers to call, so please simply go to one near you and ask if you are needed. (This needs to change in the future.) At the moment, the shelters have many daytime volunteers and assigned personnel. They need people in the evenings and at night. When you go to a location, ask to sign in and leave your number/email so the coordinators can get in touch with you if they need you.
You can also spend time checking on elderly or infirm neighbors who may have needs in your home area; the shelters do not house everyone with challenges at this time.
2. Furthermore, some shelter sites are being consolidated soon, so be sure to check the location to see how long they anticipate operating. People are being moved about all the time (which also changes the need for volunteers at any one place.)
3. That being said, individuals with medical training are always needed. If you are an RN or former RN, an EMT, etc., or a social worker, your help is needed.
4. Also, entertainers are always needed. Singers and musicians are most welcome (particularly during the day hours), and anyone who can be creative with activities for children. There may not be a lot of space to work with, but I have faith in my fellow cultural workers. Those who carry portable instruments (e.g. - your own voice, guitars, accordions, light percussion) will have the easiest time of it, but some schools with open auditoriums have a working piano!
(If there is no entertainment taking place in your local shelter and you are an actor or drama teacher, go over and create an original play with folks who are staying there.)
5. If you are volunteering, DO NOT BRING CHILDREN WITH YOU to the shelters - for any reason. It is better for you to stay home than bring children to shelters. There is no child care available for children of volunteers and it is inappropriate, to say the least, for shelter staff and other volunteers to have to deal with additional children.
6. And, meaningful as it may be, please DO NOT ask shelter staff or volunteers to "see" other parts of the facility so that either you or your children can witness New Yorkers at their best and all the nice things that are going on. Bluntly put, it is a real privacy and management challenge.
7. MATERIALS: At this point in time, only bring BRAND NEW clothing items to the shelters and check with your location FIRST to assess what is needed there. The NYC Department of Health is very concerned about spreading illnesses and BEDBUGS, so please be sensible. I am hearing from the John Jay shelter, for example, that the ONLY item they need now are NEW towels. I have been told that food and water are not needed, but, again, check with your local shelter.
8. LABOR. This is the tough one. Our Mayor, in his wisdom, has told City employees not directly assigned to a task that they must report to a shelter or take annual leave time if they stay home. That is, of course, a ridiculous requirement designed to placate the NY Post and similar forces. The result has been a real hassle for shelter coordinators - creating hurricane "rubber rooms" for City employees with nothing to do (as noted earlier there are plenty of daytime volunteers) is not smart policy.
Furthermore, not creating a flexible system that allows people to volunteer for shifts that fit their schedules makes no sense either (many employees are parents with kids unable to go to school and no access to babysitting). There is supposedly a "time card" system in use to verify that you reported to the site for a specified amount of time. Some shelters have this; others do not.
On the other hand, employees who report to shelters REALLY NEED TO BE GRACIOUS and not have an attitude towards anyone working there. If there is confusion, help to end the confusion -- don't add to it!
Member, New York State Democratic Committee
52nd Assembly District, Kings County