Sheepshead Bay residents who remain without heat and hot water are getting what they really wanted for Christmas — a disaster recovery center.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced plans on Thursday to open a relief hub in Sheepshead Bay after Hurricane Sandy-slammed neighbors still living without utilities complained and this newspaper made some calls.
“FEMA is committed to opening up a disaster recovery center in Sheepshead Bay and we’re looking for a location at this time,” agency spokeswoman Hannah Vick said.
The federal relief group has already compiled a list of viable locations for the federal centers, which provide information on government aid programs and allow people to register for help.
“We’re trying to figure out what would work best for the people that need it,” Vick explained.
Locations for disaster recovery centers are chosen based on the agency’s criteria, which requires that the venue be easily accessible and meet disability requirements.
In Brooklyn, that means it will likely be placed within walking distance of public transportation.
“If we were in a different area, like the suburbs of Atlanta where everyone has a car, then public transportation wouldn’t factor as much,” said Vick. “But if the majority of the people we serve rely on public transportation that’s going to be a huge factor.”
Neighborhood civic leaders say they wish the disaster recovery center sooner had opened sooner — but it’s better late than never.
“We really feel like its overdue, but we’re happy to have it,” said Bay Improvement Group executive director Laura McKenna.
The news comes as a relief to residents in Sheepshead Bay and nearby Plumb Beach, many of whom lost vehicles in the storm’s fourteen foot tidal surge — making it hard to access similar federal response hubs in other neighborhoods.
“That will really help people out,” said Stanton Road resident Mike Rodriguez, who remains without heat and hot water. “It’ll be much easier to take a walk around the corner instead of having to go down to Gerritsen Beach or Coney Island to talk to people.”Reach reporter Colin MIxson at cmixson@cn
©2012 Community News Group
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