Bedlam reigned Friday at a Manhattan high school that had been turned into a shelter from Sandy’s storm.
Hundreds of storm refugees camped out at the Graphic Communication Arts school were forced to live in close quarters with an army of homeless --- mostly men --- who were treating the school on W. 49th St. like a pig sty.
“One lady peed on the floor in the hallway,” said Bill Caravetta, a horrified 58-year-old tourist from Florida. “Another guy just peed in a bucket.”
Volunteers at the shelter said homeless men were terrorizing the families that had taken refuge at the school --- and fighting each other the rest of the time.
And teachers who returned to school on Friday to prepare for classes to resume on Monday were horrified.
"There's urine everywhere,” said Alice O'Neill, a teacher’s union representative. “People are scared. There are 1,100 people in the building, and they want kids to come back to the building on Monday."
“There are reports from [teachers] that homeless men defecated in a sink and broke it.”
As O’Neill spoke, nine school safety officers were trying to tackle a violent homeless man who, according to a volunteer, had just hauled off and slugged an infant.
“An emotionally disturbed man punched his infant,” the volunteer repeated, in complete disbelief.
A Daily News reporter who got inside saw school safety officers clumped in groups on the first floor --- and apparently inebriated homeless men roaming the floors above, leaving behind them trails of emptied mini liquor bottles.
Over in the lobby, homeless men tore through the piles of donated clothes and fought each other for clean underwear.
There was a pile of feces on the first floor cafeteria and a grimy man was seen urinating in a waste basket.
Elsewhere, other grimy men were seen trying to barge into bathrooms set aside for families, who were huddled together for protection.
Teachers said at least two school laptops were filched and several cell phones were stolen as well. And volunteers said there’s not enough food to feed everyone. On Friday, evacuees were served peanut butter and pizza.
Conditions were so bad, even some of the homeless were horrified.
“It’s a real mess,” said 44-year-old Darren Thomas, who was chased off the streets by Sandy. “There are cots everywhere. Cots against cots against cots. People are on top of one another. And that smell, it’s horrible in here.”
Omar Cancel, 31, a refugee from his apartment in Lower Manhattan, said that school officials are facing a huge cleanup if they hope to reopen the building to students come Monday.
“It’s a lot of people in here,” said Cancel. “It’s overwhelming. Before they put kids back in this school, they’re going to need an exterminator. There’s lice and bed bugs and who knows what else. Vermin were crawling across my bags.”
City officials promised the Graphic Arts High School would be spotless by the time students return Monday.
“We’re going to make sure it’s clean for the children coming in there Monday,” Commissioner of Homeless Services Seth Diamond said. “It was a busy evacuation center. It had thousands of people in desperate circumstances. It’s natural that a facility that got that much traffic is going to need a thorough cleaning.”
Asked about conditions at Graphic, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said, “We are going to be addressing issues that are real or perceived to be real."
Two things to say about this:
First, after stories like this, on top of the horror stories from the Rockaways, Coney Island and Staten Island, I'll argue anybody down that Bloomberg did a "great job" with this storm response.
Second, what dehumanized scum Dennis Walcott is to dismiss the Graphic Arts/Sandy Evacuation Center horror as a "perceived to be real" problem.
Walcott should be made to spend a week in the feces-smeared, urine-flooded, crime ridden hurricane evacuation center and then we can see if he thinks the problems are "perceived."
Even in his worst moments, I never thought Dennis Walcott was as unfeeling a man as Joel Klein.
But clearly Walcott cares as little for people as Bloomberg or Klein.
Bloomberg, Walcott, and Klein care for only their kind and everyone else can go to hell.ReplyDelete
OK, once again the DOE isn't making sense. We were forced (those of us who could make it) to appear in schools yesterday, where let's face it, there was nothing meaningful for us to do. Meanwhile, there are schools in the conditions you mentioned above and I don't think the DOE is going to be able to perform miracles between now and Mon. or Wed. What kind of a planning do these assholes engage in?ReplyDelete
I have always thought Walcott is even more souless than bloombie and Klein because it takes a certain mindset to eschew any responsibility for the well being of 1.1 million students. He is literally "just following orders" A true leader would have immediately led the charge into graphics h.s. (with hip waders on if necessary) and restored order. I could have a dozen NYC teachers who would be able to take command of the situation; why not Walcott?ReplyDelete
Where's Rudy when you need him!!! Thank God Bloomburg wasn't "in charge" during 9/11!!!!ReplyDelete