Our hurricane relief efforts continue at a non-stop pace in Red Hook. Days and hours blur together as the entire community works to solve one problem after the other. It is this true community partnership that is keeping us all going through this challenging time. Here are some quick updates on the status of our community:
RHI continues to host legal assistance from Legal Aid Society attorneys (learn more here) and emergency medical care from volunteer doctors, including Red Hook resident Matt Kraushar, who has offered life saving care. Hundreds of people have accessed both of these services. We have strong hopes that the local clinic will be back up and running very soon.
Volunteers through Occupy Sandy (learn more here) congregated at RHI as soon as the storm subsided and spearheaded the relief effort for Red Hook residents. Because of their efforts, we have been serving close to 1,000 hot meals per day on RHI’s four-burner stove along with tremendous support from individuals who have donated countless trays of warm, home-made food. Monday we opened space across the street at Calvary Baptist Church to help with meal distribution, while Occupy Sandy volunteers tore out a damaged rug and poured a new floor (yes, all in one day!). It is only because of Occupy Sandy that RHI has been able to react to the storm so quickly.
Early in the week RHI quickly ran out of space for all of the supplies we were receiving. Our partners Good Shepherd Services (learn more here) and Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (learn more here) have stepped up and are now doing supply collection and distribution from 10am – sundown, daily.
While electricity is on in some of the buildings in the Red Hook Houses, almost none have heat. For the second day in a row RHI purchased and distributed 150 space heaters. Knowing this will never be sufficient for those who have been in the cold for over a week, the following groups are working diligently to create warming centers in Red Hook: Brooklyn Public Library Red Hook Branch (learn more here), Red Hook Community Justice Center (learn more here), Bumblebees R Us (learn more here), NYCHA Miccio Center, and the Community Assistance Commissioner from the Mayor’s Office.
Communications continue to be a challenge since cell service and some phone lines are down. Our volunteers have been using bike messengers to carry information from site to site throughout the neighborhood. Yesterday, our friends at Recycle A Bicycle (learn more here) donated bikes to aid transport and communications. Saturday they will offer free bike repair for our volunteers on bikes.
Yesterday we utilized volunteers, not only to help the business community with clean up, but to communicate about changes to Red Hook’s polling sites and to mobilize and transport people to get out to vote. All week, volunteers have been reporting to the volunteer hub, Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation (learn more here).
Several small business owners have established Restore Red Hook (learn more here) in partnership with Falconworks (learn more here) to help local small businesses get re-established. Portside New York (learn more here), and IKEA Brooklyn are providing space to help process paperwork to support the business community to recover from the storm.
Much of this coordination and collaboration is thanks to round-the-clock efforts by Carlos Menchaca from the Office of Speaker Christine Quinn, who has been on the ground in Red Hook since day one.
There have been so many individuals, groups, churches, government officials, and non-profit organizations that have stepped in to support Red Hook at this time, that we know we have accidentally left some out of this email, for which we apologize. We also know it is hard to get through on our phone lines, that emails are not always promptly answered, and that messages may slip through the cracks– we thank you for your patience, persistence and generosity as we try to keep up with this situation.
In anticipation of the storm today, we are only using volunteers for food and blanket/ supply distribution out of RHI at 767 Hicks Street starting at 10am. Please watch our website for updates and potential changes about the call for volunteers and supply donation drop offs: www.rhicenter.org.
It truly takes a whole community to respond in a time of crisis. We are proud to be a part of this neighborhood and this response.
Photo by Michael Harlan Turkell www.harlanturk.com