FEMA disaster center shuttered "due to weather"

The agency intended to aid hurricane victims closes its doors because of the nor'easter


Natasha Lennard
November 8, 2012 1:44AM (UTC)

Despite the election distraction, many victims of Hurricane Sandy in New York and New Jersey have not recovered. As of yesterday, in New York City 91,000 homes still have no power and residents in storm-battered areas like the Rockaways and Staten Island continue to rely on community relief efforts for hot meals, flashlights, blankets and other vital supplies. As these communities prepare to weather another harsh storm tonight and tomorrow -- a nor'easter's freezing temperatures, 60-mph winds, heavy rain and snow -- FEMA has reportedly closed its doors.

DNAinfo reports that the federal agency, which residents of the Rockaways and Staten Island  say has already neglected them, had shuttered facilities Wednesday with signs reading "closed due to weather." "They fly into disaster areas, but flee from raindrops," commented DNA. A FEMA facility in Staten Island, which was helping victims register for disaster relief, as well as city food distribution centers, was empty as of Wednesday morning. DNA reported:

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The front doors of the disaster recovery center, which is housed inside the Mount Lorretto Catholic Youth Organization, were unlocked, but there was no staff anywhere in sight for at least a half an hour.

And a set of buses which served as a pair of warming centers at the site for the past several days were missing, according to non-FEMA volunteers who continued to hand out supplies from a nearby building despite the storm.

Volunteers at a nearby donation distribution center said the buses vanished on Wednesday.

... FEMA spokesman Carter Langston said that the mobile centers were shuttered and staff moved inland because they were not structurally sound enough to weather the storm, which could put their staff in danger.

"Because these are mobile centers, they were shut down for life safety," Langston said. "As soon as weather permits tomorrow, they’re going to be back in place [possibly by noon]."

The remaining five sites in the city — in Staten Island, Coney Island, the Rockaways and The Bronx — were also closed or in the process of shutting down.

Unlike ahead of Sandy, there have been no mandatory evacuation orders before the new storm. However, Mayor Bloomberg has advised that residents in the low-lying portions of Staten Island and the Rockaways leave the area. For many of Sandy's worst hit victims, many still stuck without heat or electricity, picking up and leaving might not be so easy.


Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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