New York City has organized the distribution of basic supplies for Hurricane Sandy Victims at the Chelsea Park soccer field on West 27th Street, between Ninth and Tenth Avenues, between 1 and 5 p.m.
Giveaways were provided by the federal government and aid groups including the Salvation Army and American Red Cross, as well as by Zabar’s, the food market on Broadway and 80th Street. Military trucks delivered the donations to the site.
“It’s a combined effort by everyone,” said NYPD lieutenant Michael Vitalo, of the 10th precinct, “and over 50 volunteers showed up today.”
The NYPD office has been busy since the day before Hurricane Sandy struck, preparing for the storm. Since it hit, they have received many calls. “Lots of people called from out of town to check if their relatives and friends were safe,” said Vitalo.
During the week, before power was restored, NYPD cars patrolled the neighborhood with their lights on. “They [the residents] are afraid to go out. Before last night, it was very dark, so we kept the lights on to make them know we’re here,” he said. “After the giveaways arrived, we knocked on their doors, put flyers under the doors and announced with the patrol cars.”
Residents of the nearby public housing projects remained without electricity until Friday evening, along with the rest of Chelsea. Carmen Lorenzo and Winda Martinez, both of whom live across the street from the projects, picked up water bottles, boxes of potato chips and candy.
Tempers got short, and accusations flew. “During the last days, our building manager didn’t even once knock on our door to make sure we were okay. When someone doesn’t pay their rent immediately, they don’t hesitate to find you,” said Lorenzo, who has lived in public housing for 24 years. “When you are in need, no one shows up,” she said.
Debo-Rah Gatling, a resident in Elliot House, criticized the city government for their late help. “Bloomberg hasn’t taken care of us,” she said. She was also angry about what she perceived as New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s lack of attention to this neighborhood.
Rose Richimsky, another resident in Elliot House, said that she felt like “a step child abandoned by the city government.” “Without Dream Center [the church organization providing food and water for public housing residents every day along this week] we can’t make through this terrible situation,” she said.
Toby Levine, a 27-year old program manager for New York Cares, the city’s largest volunteer program, said about 150 volunteers worked throughout the afternoon, as hundreds of people showed up and picked up supplies. “Volunteers also knocked on peoples doors to bring them water and clothes,” she said.
The city will continue its work on Sunday in areas that still don’t have electricity.