The head of Homeland Security visited parts of the city on Monday, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency recovery center Coney Island, Brooklyn, to view the devastation firsthand and to warn about this week's nor'easter. Borough reporter Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.
The parking lot at MCU Park in Coney Island, Brooklyn has become a disaster recovery site, with Federal Emergency Management Agency as its centerpiece. It is a distribution center for supplies, a communications center where residents can use the phone and a place to get food stamps and apply for loans.
That is why the Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was there Monday to talk about federal help, particularly with a nor'easter about to hit the city.
"Housing is a key issue. Something we're working with local authorities on," Napolitano said. "It's going to bring with it some more winds, some more rain and possibly some more flooding and some more surge. Everything people did to get ready for Sandy, we need to do for the nor'easter."
"It's really important that community members go door to door within their own housing block, within their own apartment building. We are very worried about this nor'easter coming in and below freezing temperatures," said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. "So identifying homebound seniors who have not left who don't have enough food, don't have enough blankets, it's essential for their well-being."
In this lot Monday, not-for-profit groups and volunteers lent a hand to those in need. A regular vendor at the city's street festivals, including San Gennaro, gave out free sausage and peppers and zeppoles.
"The people have no way of getting things to eat or whatever so we're offering the neighborhood because we live in Brooklyn and this is our community," said the food vendor.
"We've given out over 3,000 blankets so far, toiletries and anything just to help the people through the storm, after the storm with no electricity, no heat, no gas," said one volunteer.
Residents said they need the help and they were grateful.
"I can cook but the water is a mess," said a resident. "There's a lot of stuff that's coming out of the water. That's why I came for water over there. That was a good idea."
"We live over there. When all the water came, it caused the power outage and now we can't see anything. And some of the electricity don't work," said a local child.
The approaching winter storm is forcing FEMA to move indoors on Tuesday to a church a couple of blocks away, Our Lady of Solace on West 17th Street.