Thursday, December 25, 2014

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NY1 For You: City's Disabled Residents Had Elevated Needs After Storm

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So many disabled New Yorkers were trapped after Hurricane Sandy when elevators across the city were shutdown even after the electricity was turned back on. The station's "NY1 For You" unit covered many of these stories, helping the young and old. NY1's Susan Jhun filed the following report.

Eleven-year-old wheelchair user Quinten Morales was literally stuck for three months in his seventh floor apartment in a Rockaway Beach building, where the elevators were out for several months after Hurricane Sandy. 

"My biggest fear is that God forbid there's a fire or any type of emergency, we're trapped here," says Quinten's mother, Joanne Morales.

That was last February. At the time, Quinten had to be home schooled and missed important doctor's appointments. After the Morales family contacted NY1, we called management for the building, the Department Of Buildings and OEM, the Office of Emergency Management. Once our story aired, management offered to move the Morales family to a nearby two-family model home until the elevators were up and running.

"It's so wonderful for him and his situation. He was able to go back and forth to school it was so much easier," says Joanne.

Quinten's case, like so many others we covered throughout the city, raises serious concerns about emergency assistance for the disabled. According to CIDNY, The Center for Independence of the Disabled in New York, there were over a hundred thousand people with disabilities in Zone A during Hurricane Sandy. In June, CIDNY conducted a survey and found 70 percent of those surveyed continued to have housing problems related to Sandy including elevators that were still not working.

"No one ever reached out to us, no one really cared and then when we tried to reach out to them all they could say was, 'Oh well there's nothing we can do, try to call 311,'" says Joanne.

There's currently a class action lawsuit against the city alleging its emergency plans violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.

A spokeswoman for the city law department said after Sandy the city engaged in a rigorous and expedited process to further enhance its existing programs for all New Yorkers, including people with disabilities.

For now, the Morales family is still in their new home, hoping to eventually purchase the house.

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