Mayor Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor Linda I. Gibbs and Chief Service Officer Diahann Billings-Burford today announced volunteers will begin a new targeted door-to-door canvass in the Far Rockaways to contact and assess residents in buildings fewer than six stories. The effort builds on extensive outreach and the restoration of power in many buildings, and recognizes the health risks for people living in buildings that still do not have electricity, heat or running water.
Supported by volunteers from the Clinton Global Initiative, this additional door-to-door canvassing will build upon the City’s efforts that began in the days immediately following Hurricane Sandy, when the City coordinated a massive relief effort to targeted zones through NYC Service, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and partnerships with nonprofits to distribute more than 2 million meals, more than 660,000 bottles of water, more than 170,000 blankets and 15,000 space heaters. After the initial effort, City medical teams canvassed more than 65,000 high-rise apartment units in the Rockaways, Coney Island and Red Hook, making contact with more than 42,000 people, providing food and/or water to more than 1,700, medical assessments and prescriptions for 335 and evacuating 44 people for medical reasons. The Department of Housing Preservation and Development is also contacting building owners in affected areas to ask if services have been restored and if they can check on their residents in buildings where power and heat are still unavailable.
“The well-being of the residents in impacted communities is and will remain our top priority,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Since the start we have conducted thousands of door knocks, offering food and water, medical assistance if needed and simple human contact to residents, focusing especially on those in high rise buildings with limited ability to move around on their own. This will continue until the power is restored in every neighborhood of our city.”
“The extraordinary effort of volunteers, non-profits, City agencies, state and federal partners, and neighbors helping neighbors, has allowed us to protect the well-being of residents who remained in place and have been without power,” said Deputy Mayor Gibbs. “I thank each and every person for their generosity of effort on behalf of all those who have been helped.”
“Our primary concern is the elderly, young children, socially isolated, those with chronic health problems and those living on the upper floors of high-rise buildings,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley. “We encourage those populations to seek alternate living situations and for friends, relatives and neighbors to regularly check-in on each other – particularly during prolonged cold weather.”
“In addition to our providing automatic replacement food stamps to families affected by the storm, Human Resources Administration staff have contacted and made home visits to assist the most vulnerable New Yorkers throughout the City, including those living with HIV/AIDS, the elderly and disabled,” said Robert Doar, Commissioner of the Human Resources Administration. “Volunteers from nonprofits have been invaluable to our efforts as we continue to ensure our at-risk clients receive the care and safety they need, including food, medical assistance, and emergency housing.”
“Our agency partners, other city agencies and our staff went above and beyond to make more than 12,000 contacts to vulnerable seniors through calls and visits, deliver tens of thousands of meals, volunteer at shelters and keep senior centers open through extended hours to serve as warming centers for New Yorkers to get out of the cold,” said Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, Commissioner of the Department for the Aging. “As true New Yorkers, many people came together to help those who needed it.”
Health Risks of Persons Living in Buildings Without Electricity, Heat, or Running Water
The people at greatest health risk are the elderly, young children, socially isolated, and those with chronic health problems. Prolonged exposure to cold, along with the absence of electricity and water increases various health risks, including hypothermia, falls from inadequate lighting, exposure to carbon monoxide in persons using stoves for heat, and stress-related exacerbation of pre-existing health problems.
Overview of Canvassing Operations
Beginning immediately after Hurricane Sandy, the Mayor’s Office and NYC Service coordinated partnerships with non-profit organizations such as the United Way of NYC/Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, Harlem Children’s Zone, Catholic Charities, NY Cares, and the Human Services Council and deployed an average of 700 daily volunteers to canvas affected areas of the Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island. The volunteers reached approximately 24,606 units with food, water and blankets.
On the November 8 “Day of Service,” 90 volunteers from the United Way reached 194 units in three targeted buildings in Coney Island and MetCouncil, JASA, and COJECO worked with Shorefront Y to canvass additional buildings.
On November 9, The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene began a coordinated effort with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HSS), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Guard to conduct medical assessments and provide assistance to residents in high-rise buildings in the Rockaways and Coney Island. A separate door to door medical effort was conducted by NYCHA in Red Hook on November 13. The teams canvassed more than 65,000 high-rise apartment units in the Rockaways, Coney island and Red Hook, making contact with more than 42,000 people, providing food and/or water to more than 1,700, medical assessments and prescriptions for 335 and evacuating 44 people for medical reasons.
Moving forward starting today, volunteers supported by nonprofit groups will survey additional units that remain without power and continue to check on the well-being of residents. Wellness follow-up visits will be conducted by Visiting Nurse Services if needed, as well as emergency home delivered meals from the Department for the Aging for those with difficulty accessing food support, until power is restored.
Health Care to Impacted Communities
Non-profit partners and the City’s Health and Hospital Corporation have been operating daily 7-10 mobile in impacted areas and are operating daily. These providers, which are primarily filling a need for medication refills, are each seeing between 10 and 40 patients per day. The most common request is need for medication refills.
Additional Outreach to Vulnerable Populations
HRA conducted outreach and door-to-door operations through its social service provisions, including Adult Protective Services, HASA and Home Care. Follow up in all cases is ongoing.
- Home Care: Following Sandy, staff and first responders visited Home Care clients in Far Rockaway and contacted 1,515 high-risk clients to check on their status and deliver food, water, and blankets.
- Adult Protective Services: Through the weekdays and weekends following the storm, HRA’s staff visited devastated neighborhoods to deliver flashlights, food, water and blankets to impaired adults at risk to ensure their care and safety.
- HASA: Staff members visited at-risk clients living with HIV/AIDS residing in Far Rockaway, Staten Island and other areas throughout the City, and distributed blankets, food and water. In addition to client outreach, since November 1, HASA has located emergency housing for 354 homeless clients.
Post Sandy, the Department for the Aging staff at all 23 case management agencies made more than 12,000 contacts to seniors at risk. A handful of clients were either evacuated or sent to a hospital. All 23 home delivered meal programs, in partnership with City Meals on Wheels, have been delivering meals to all their clients and also mobilized volunteers to continue deliveries of meals and emergency food packs, often using creative solutions to fuel their delivery vehicles. Additionally, DFTA’s 13 home care agencies stayed in touch with clients when aides could not make visits.
Information on shelter, food/water distribution, Restoration Centers and additional resources are available at nyc.gov or by calling 311.