Sheepshead Bay residents who remain without heat and hot water got what they really wanted for Christmas — a disaster recovery center.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency opened a relief hub at the Sheepshead Bay Yacht Club on Emmons Avenue on Wednesday, pleasing storm-slammed neighbors who have long complained about a lack of government aid following Hurricane Sandy.
Civic activist Laura McKenna of the Bay Improvement Group cheered the federal agency’s decision to open up shop between Brown and Batchelder streets, saying the site is nearest to the people who need it most — including some residents who are still living without basic utilities.
“This location is closest to the impacted part of the community and will have high visibility,” said McKenna.
“We hope it will bring an increase to services to the area as we move from relief to recovery,” she said.
The disaster recovery center will operate from 9 am to 6 pm, Monday to Saturday through Jan. 28, providing Brooklynites with information on government aid programs and allowing people to register for help.
Neighborhood civic leaders told this newspaper they wish the disaster recovery center had opened sooner — but it’s better late than never.
“We really feel like it’s overdue, but we’re happy to have it,” said 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 14-foot tidal surge — making it hard for them to access similar federal response hubs in other Southern Brooklyn neighborhoods.
“That will really help people out,” said Stanton Road resident Mike Rodriguez, who remains without heat and hot water more than two months after the storm.
“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.”
The response hub aims to help residents and merchants alike by opening its doors to the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Organizers are seeking additional relief groups interested in helping out.Reach reporter Colin MIxson at cmixson@cn
©2013 Community News Group
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