If it weren’t colossally tragic, the level of disorder, dysfunction, and all-around clusterfuckery that characterizes the official disaster response in New York City in the wake of Hurricane Sandy would be fast approaching hilarious.
As it is, the situation is both heartbreaking and enraging.
The Daily News reports today that as of yesterday, eight days after Sandy hit, “21,000 NYCHA residents in 114 buildings across Brooklyn, Queens and lower Manhattan were still without power.”
The Voice has been trying to get information from NYCHA about the state of repairs since shortly after the hurricane, but as of the publication of this post we haven’t gotten any answers. Local building managers refer all questions to the central press office, which isn’t answering its phone and which responds to emailed questions with promises to get reply shortly.
Apparently it’s not just the press. City Councilman Steven Levin told the News about his own frustrating communications with the NYCHA:
“The level of dysfunction and apathy from NYCHA to the tenants of NYCHA is shocking,” Levin said. “I can’t get an answer for the last three and a half hours. I get responses like, ‘We’re trying.’ “
Meanwhile, yesterday as a powerful nor’easter bore down on parts of the city still reeling from the hurricane the week before, DNAInfo reported that the Federal Emergency Management Agency, actually shuttered the shelters it was running in affected areas and pulled its relief staff out, abandoning residents in need of food, shelter and supplies.
Now, this morning, the New York Times reports that Governor Cuomo has just fired his head of the Office of Emergency Management, Steven Kuhr.
“During the storm, Mr. Kuhr, who lives in Suffolk County, was working in Albany. At a time when work crews were in high demand, he is believed to have told the Suffolk County Office of Emergency Management to clear a tree from his driveway.”
With a relief effort like this, the weather may be the least of our problems.