Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

NYCHA Buildings Suffer Post-Sandy Squalor

The Mayor of Money doesn't seem to be working all that hard to fix this:

The hand-written sign taped to the door at the Red Hook Houses said it

A full week after Hurricane Sandy came and went, thousands of furious
 Housing Authority tenants in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan struggled 
Monday to survive in squalid conditions as NYCHA scrambled in vain to
 turn on power, heat and water.

“Nobody comes here to help. It’s the land of the lost,” declared a 
frustrated Ralph Fret, 64, pointing at the black fetid water that 
remained in the basement of his building - nearly to the ceiling. “You
 see all that water? You see a pump anywhere? They’re not doing

As of Monday some 20,000 NYCHA tenants at 108 buildings in 17 projects 
in Brooklyn, Queens and Lower Manhattan remained in the dark on many
 levels – living without heat, water, elevators and light but also
 without word from officials about when things might get back to 

The lingering blackout affected different developments in different
 ways, with some buildings darkened and others blazing with
light. At spot checks in two Brooklyn projects, residents said NYCHA
 had told them little about when conditions would improve.

Located a few blocks from the water, Red Hook was hit particularly
 hard. The surge from Hurricane Sandy that swept through the
 development Oct. 29 dumped New York Harbor into the basements of
 several buildings, flooding boilers and electrical rooms and making
 quick recovery impossible.

While most of the rest of the neighborhood got power back over the 
weekend, as of Monday NYCHA residents were still lugging plastic jugs
 of water up pitch-black stairwells, holding flashlights in their teeth 
to see as best they could. To alleviate the stench, someone had 
released water from a pump down the stairs, and tenants feared it
 would freeze as the temperatures drop.

Some residents continued to drop garbage down chutes to compactors 
that don’t work, and it began piling up inside, reaching the third
 floor in one building. The interiors of some buildings reeked of 
decaying food.

And when the sun goes down, residents fearing robbers said they lock
 themselves inside with candles and flashlights, refusing to open the 
door to anyone.

“Make sure you’re upstairs before dark,” said Mareln Mieles, 47.

“Don’t answer to anyone – no matter whether they say police. We do not
 answer our doors.”

At 4:30 Monday morning, Geraldine Seymore, 55, awoke to discover her 
apartment was filling up with water – on the ninth floor. A leak above
 created a cataract that poured through her light fixtures into her 

“Where is the water coming from? I’m on the ninth floor,” she asked.

“The water is pouring into my apartment. Everything in my house is

Across Brooklyn at the Gowanus Houses, at least three of the 14 
buildings were still without water, heat and electric a week after the
 notoriously polluted canal nearby poured into manhole covers and
 basements and knocked out power.

By Monday residents said Con Edison crews had fixed the lines leading
 into the development, but NYCHA had yet to repair the fuses in the 

“There needs to be better coordination between the agencies,” said
 Brooklyn City Councilman Stephen Levin, who was at the Gowanus Houses 
talking with both parties all day Monday. “Con Ed is saying they’re 
ready to go. NYCHA says we’re working on it.”

Shamika Diaz, 32, worried about her asthmatic son who relies on an 
electronically powered machine to get oxygen on a regular basis. She 
couldn’t understand why she still had no power when water in the 
basement of her building had been pumped out days ago.

“And I’m one of the lucky ones. I live on the second floor. I’m not
 one of the disabled people living on the 10th floor who can’t come 
The Housing Authority said it was doing the best it could under
 difficult circumstances. Two days before the storm it ordered the
 evacuation of 26 developments in low-lying areas near the water, 
shutting off water and elevators.
After the surge Monday, power was 
turned off to 10 projects in Brooklyn and Queens. As of Monday NYCHA
 spokeswoman Sheila Stainback said the agency had restored elevators, 
water and electricity to dozens of buildings.
Welcome to Third World New York.
And the Mayor of Money, still being feted by the wealthy people on the UES for the "great job" he has done both pre- and post-Sandy, ignores these people and the squalor they are being forced to live.
There's a reason for that.
He doesn't give a shit about them - at all.
Think about the children living in these projects the next time you log on to the insipid NYCDOE website and see the ad emblazoned across the top "Children First. Always".


  1. Like in New Orleans, where the teachers were fired, the schools privatized and public housing destroyed in the aftermath of Katrina, this is the Shock Doctrine at work, opportunistically using crises to implement policies that would otherwise be opposed.

    It's not incompetence or lack of resources, it's policy.

  2. I totally agree, Michael.

    They'll use this storm very handily in the coming months and years for more privatization schemes.

    I looked on the NYSED website and saw no mention of Sandy as a factor in the Common Core/accountability jive.

    You can bet they will go full steam ahead with school closures, teacher evaluations based on tests, additional tests and the like, despite the horrors that Sandy wrought.

    Accountability will be had for students, teachers and schools.

    But not for mayors governors or ed commissioners.

  3. I would like to comment on the real estate developers. They will knock down those structures. The poor will be scattered. The neighborhood will get sea walls and then be gentrified. This will happen. Like Rahmbo said. It is important to exploit a disaster. Here we go again.
    Angry Nog

    1. You're absolutely right - as Michael said above, they're not screwing up the recovery effort in these places out of incompetence. It's the plan - just as it was post-Katrina. Or in Haiti. Here come the disaster capitalism bearing arms, I mean alms.