Tag Archives: occupy sandy

Church of the Ascension Occupied for Sandy

Church of the Ascension on Java Street has been Occupied. The church, which began helping coordinate relief efforts (with Councilmember Steve Levin) for Hurricane Sandy survivors immediately after the storm, has just been more formally Occupied by Occupy Sandy, an off-shoot of Occupy Wall Street. The Greenpoint site is largely replacing the 520 Clinton Street location at the Church of St Luke and St Matthew in Clinton Hill, after a December 23rd two-alarm fire at that location which fire officials have called “suspicious” and Church Father Chris Ballard called “arson.”

The church, Occupy Sandy’s first Greenpoint location, will serve as an office hub for the various Occupy Sandy locales in the city and as a headquarters for “volunteer dispatch operations” to the Rockaways, Gerritsen Beach, Red Hook, Coney Island, Staten Island, and Sheepshead Bay, where survivors continue to struggle with little help aside from volunteers like Occupy Sandy and others.

Occupy Sandy will also use the locale to offer a regularly scheduled orientation for new volunteers interested in helping in the ongoing long-term relief effort. More information is available on the Occupy Sandy website.

Greenpoint’s response to Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath began immediately after the storm through City Councilmember Steve Levin, and both Church of the Ascension and Greenpoint Reformed Church.

As recently reported in the Greenpoint Star and DNAinfo, there are Greenpoint residents still suffering the affects the storm including moldy basements and problems getting insurance or government to help with necessary cleanup funds.

(originally published at greenpointers.com)

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Sandy and the City’s Response

It has been over two weeks since Hurricane Sandy struck New York City, devastating neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island – as well as many other places in the region. The relief response has been sometimes overwhelmingly large from activists and community groups and individuals, working with scant resources and doing what many expected the city to do but has not: to help those most affected in a time of crisis.

By Mayor Bloomberg’s own estimation, 30,000 people will need shelter provided to them to survive the winter. Those who don’t want to go to a city shelter can be relocated to temporary housing, but only in places outside of New York City and far from people’s neighborhoods and communities.

Throughout the hurricane and into what is now a housing crisis, volunteers, political figures and communities have expressed frustration with the city’s seeming inability to help, or to even acknowledge the scale of the crisis, with the Mayor expressing that “the financial markets will resume, as will business in all five boroughs” just one day after the storm – while hundreds of thousands of people in the region lacked transportation, water, electricity or even shelter.

The crisis is so large that the humanitarian-aid group Doctors Without Borders, which usually operates in undeveloped countries, has set up a clinic in Far Rockaway, calling the area a “global disaster zone.”

Mayor Bloomberg announced on November 9 a new city program, called “Rapid Repair,” that would return people to their damaged homes beginning next week, at the expense of FEMA. The Mayor promised more ideas for other stranded New Yorkers “next week.”

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently derided the performance of the utility companies’ preparation for and response to Hurricane Sandy, including National Grid and Con Edison, in a letter to the companies, complaining of their “failure to keep the trust that New Yorkers have placed in you by granting you the privilege to conduct utility business in New York State.” Many residents are not expected to have power back until after Thanksgiving.

(originally aired in tv form at Occupy Public Access TV)

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Greenpoint Responds to Hurricane Sandy

The Greenpoint Reformed Church‘s volunteers prepared more than 1,000 bag lunches over the weekend, on top of thousands of meals prepared by the Church’s volunteers throughout the week as a relief effort for those affected by Hurricane Sandy.

The volunteers of the weekly Wednesday hot meal at the Church’s Soup Kitchen led the organizing of up to 60 simultaneous volunteers preparing lunches and hot meals. Bag lunches included peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, juice, chips, cookie or granola bar, and fruit. The lunches were provided to Greenpoint’s Church of the Ascension on Java Street, where Councilmember Steve Levin has been coordinating drop-off donations and deliveries to Red Hook, Coney Island and Gerritsen Beach.

Many of Brooklyn’s neighborhoods are reeling in the devastation left by Hurricane Sandy. The city itself, without having done door-to-door inquiries, admits 40,000 – 50,000 people will need shelter. (In addition to the already 30,000 people homeless in the city on any given night.) Reuters quoted Mayor Mike Bloomberg as stating that, “We don’t have a lot of empty housing in this city. It’s a problem to find housing.” This despite homeless advocacy group Picture the Homeless’ findings that there are enough vacant properties in the city to easily house over 200,000 people, and then some.

I, along with thousands of other North Brooklyn residents, treked into Queens today to grab the 7 train into Manhattan. Why? Because the city has decided, by opening the schools and demanding that city workers return to work, that all workers can return to work – putting pressure on all of us to commute any way we can, or risk losing our situation. If the city actually cared about the communities that have been devastated, they would encourage us all to volunteer and help out, instead of working our usual dayjobs as though nothing happened.

Elsewhere in the city, ad-hoc volunteerism leads the response, not the city government. One volunteer from West Harlem, Ely, reported of volunteering in Staten Island: “We got there and per the Occupy Sandy site, ended up in New Dorp High School to drop off all goods. Later we walked to New Dorp Beach where the damaged houses were. We helped (loading our carts with garbage) move garbage bags from small alleys to a larger street where garbage trucks were picking up garbage. They still need a lot of cleaning.”

As the Red Cross continues to draw criticism for its lax response to the crisis in Brooklyn and Staten Island, and the city continues its tepid response, it is only community groups, churches, Occupy Wall Street and thousands of individual volunteers that are responding to the needs of victims of Hurricane Sandy. While mainstream news continues to cover the Mayor’s carefully staged storm updates and delight in power returning to lower Manhattan, activists and volunteers are beginning to write and post about their experiences online, revealing a deeply disorganized city unable or unwilling to respond to a population in dire need.

Governor Cuomo tweeted Sunday night, “#sandy #safety: Shivering, confusion, memory loss & drowsiness may be symptoms of Hypothermia, #staysafe” with a link to a CDC info page on Hypothermia. As though anyone suffering these things would be on Twitter, checking tips from the Governor. The disconnect is astounding.

If people left homeless by Sandy held up an Occupy sign, would they get Bloomberg’s attention?

As tens-of-thousands of New Yorkers remain without shelter, food, warmth, water, or any sign that help is on the way, this becomes Bloomberg’s well-earned legacy: those he couldn’t stop and frisk, he let eat cake in the wake of Sandy.

originally published at greenpointers.com

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