Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

NYCHA - No Visits To Help After Sandy, But The Rent Must Be Paid On Time

Denis Hamill in the New York Daily News:

This is where you should go, Mr. President.

When you arrive in New York City on Thursday to witness the ravages of Hurricane Sandy, set the presidential limo GPS to 56-10 Beach Channel Drive in Far Rockaway.

Walk through the quadrangle past the large, white Caterpillar generator that only started supplying limited electricity on Friday to the five-story dirty brick building that is part of the Edgemere projects, home to 14,000 people — most of whom live far below the poverty line.

Enter the narrow hallway and turn left and go knock on the door of Apt. 1G, where you will find a large beige masking-taped “X” on the door scribbled with black marker that 12 people and one cat live inside in four bedrooms that have had no heat or hot water since the day the storm hit.

“I would love President Obama to come and sit right here at my kitchen table,” says Anita Vaughan, 49, matriarch of this family that consists of her and her husband, Donald, four adult kids and six grandchildren under age 5. “I voted for Obama four years ago. I voted for him again last Tuesday.
So did all the other five adults here. . . . We only got lights on Friday. Tell him to wear a sweater because we have no heat.”

“And you can’t use any of the baseboard outlets or else they give you shocks,” says her son, Desmond, 22, whose cashier/grillman job he’s had for the past six years at the local McDonald’s was also washed out by Sandy.

“We can only run extension cords from the sockets up high where the water that flooded through the ground floor windows and up through the floors didn’t short circuit,” says Cynthia Torres, 20, holding her year-old baby, Jovan, on her lap.If the President shows up, he’ll have to forgive them for not wearing their Sunday best.

“Barack better not expect us to wear clean clothes if he comes because we haven’t been able to do any wash since the storm,” Anita Vaughan says, pointing to 17 heavy duty garbage bags of laundry lining the kitchen and foyer.

Take a tour of this apartment, Mr. President, as I did on Tuesday, and see the plaster and paint falling from the spongy bathroom walls that are bubbling like pancakes on a hot grill. See the roaches zigzagging the crumbling walls, shiny and plump, feelers probing for food in this dark and dank roach resort. Come see the federal NYCHA dollar at glorious work.

“The cockroaches came in with that flood water,” says Anita Vaughan. “Open the kitchen cabinet doors and you think they gonna run out with the Campbell’s soup cans,” says Anita’s daughter Syrina, 18. “So many of them. We never had roaches like that. We keep a clean house, but there was so much dirty water. . . .”

When the storm hit, the entire family of 12 had to retreat up to a fifth-floor neighbor’s apartment for three days while the adults went to work each day sweeping the water out of the four bedrooms, kitchen and living room with brooms.

“Nobody from NYCHA came to help with a pump or anything like that,” says Torres. “We had to sweep 2 feet of water out of the apartment ourselves. And keep sweeping it down the hallway into the street or else it flowed right back in.”

Didn’t NYCHA at least provide industrial brooms or squeegees to help them bail out the apartment?
“Hell, no,” Cynthia Torres says. “They never came once to see how we were doing when we were living for 10 days in the pitch dark with no phones, no hot water, no heat, no cable, sometimes no drinking water or food, no nothing. Two NYCHA guys came today for the first time since the storm.
They looked around for about 30 seconds. And before he left, the manager told us where we could go to pay the rent on time! We’re living like animals and all they were worried about was the $1,000-a-month rent.”

“We stayed because we had nowhere else to go,” says Anita Vaughan. “I’d tell President Obama that this has been my home for 30 years. I’m on heart, blood pressure meds and insulin for diabetes. I couldn’t keep my insulin cold without electric. I had to have my kids run back and forth to my sister’s house for that. Plus my husband, Donald, he just had two kidney transplants and suffered a stroke.”
Donald Vaughan, 49, sits on the edge of a bed in a back bedroom with a home attendant and shows me the bandages from his transplanted kidneys as he sits before the precarious warmth of a space heater.

“I worked for Lo Bello Electric, as a Local 363 electrician,” he says. “But I can’t work right now. You don’t mind if you could watch a little TV, but we have no cable, no phone, and no Internet yet. Plus my blue minivan, the family van, was destroyed in the storm. I had no flood insurance. Gone. . . .”

“Last night they shut off the water altogether again,” says Torres. “You couldn’t flush unless you hauled water in from the hydrant outside. When it came back on today, the soldiers, the National Guard, they came and knocked and said don’t drink it because it’s all rust colored. We’re washing with dirty water.”

Aria Doe who runs the Action Center out of the Community Center at 57-10 Beach Channel Drive arrives with her husband and fellow workers delivering a new crib and bedding for some of Anita Vaughan’s grandchildren.

“One resident was actually ticketed for opening a hydrant while the building had no water,” she says.
“All the kids have sniffles and colds because this place is so damp from the storm,” says Anita Vaughan. “All our mattresses are still soaking wet from the flood. We put new blankets on top of the wet mattresses at night and by morning they’re wet. Nobody can get dry mattresses. I asked the NYCHA guy what we can do about the place being so damp with no heat. He tells me, ‘Keep the windows open all day and night till it dries.’ But when we open the windows it’s freezing here by the sea at night and today it’s raining.”

What would be the main thing she’d tell President Obama if he visited her on Thursday?

“I would tell him I am glad he got reelected because I think he has a good heart,” Anita Vaughan said, her family gathered around her in the damp projects kitchen in post-Sandy Far Rockaway. “But I’d tell him I think NYCHA should give me a new apartment before all my kids get really sick or there’s a fire in here. I’d tell President Obama that I voted for him twice and I believe in him but I also believe that this is no way for human beings to have to live in America.”

This is the place, Mr. President.

How is this not like Katrina?

Obama won't go there.

He doesn't give a shit about these people any more than Bloomberg does.

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