Giving back after Super Storm Sandy

Economic Development Corporation

By: Fred Hornedo, Assistant Supervisor, Graffiti Removal

We were on standby for the storm and then after the storm hit we started to get phone calls from the people who were hit—Staten Island, Far Rockaway. We were just waiting for the word on whether they needed help. So they said get the trucks ready and fill them all up with fuel.The city mobilized the EDC teams to respond to the most devastated areas. Project Renewal had about 20-30 guys with 9 trucks plus supervisor vehicles.

When we got out there it was really bad—no power, no heat, water everywhere. It looked awful— like a disaster area.The residents had no power to run their pumps. By giving a hand we let people plug into the generators on our trucks out there with power strips plus extension cords running lines into people’s houses. Many people needed to use them to charge their cell phones so they could contact loved ones. We moved rubble, rubbish, and debris and pumped their houses. More people started coming later, but even arriving on Friday we were first responders—the National Guard, National Grid, Red Cross came later and started pitching in. But they still didn’t have power.

We gave a hand however we could with whatever we had. People had good spirits, they were happy to see us. But after the third or fourth day people were down with no power. If they had gotten power back sooner they would have been better off.

Seeing how bad it was, I didn’t realize it just from TV, it was heartbreaking. I would have run out there by myself if I had known how bad it was—I would have volunteered my time in a heartbeat. These were just regular people who didn’t ask for this.

Osmundo Robinson, Assistant Supervisor, Area Maintenance

Just devastating, shocking almost. I was speechless. People losing their houses, taking stuff out of their houses. We went out on Friday cleaning up debris that came out of the water, and we were out there two days. It was surpising, a lot worse than anyone expected. Where I live it didn’t hit that bad. But to see how it affected them was shocking. I passed by Breezy Point and it looked just like a garbage dump. We were some of the first people to show up—and that was Friday.

3rd Street Men’s Shelter

Barbara Hughes, Director, Comfort Foods and Culinary Arts Training Program

When the storm hit we were able to get the generator running immediately, which enabled us to keep the kitchens going. We opened up our doors to the neighborhood and served hundreds of extra meals, in addition to the clients staying at the shelter!