Hurricane Sandy has devastated several communities across New York City and the surrounding region. I am focused on providing much-needed assistance to the thousands of constituents in Brooklyn as we work together to rebuild after this terrible disaster. To report storm damage, click here.
Residents are advised to call 311, text 311-692, or visit www.nyc.gov to receive assistance from the Office of Emergency Management, the Departments of Parks and Sanitation.You should only call 911 for life-threatening situations. It is important to adhere to the instructions of all emergency officials.
TheCity of New York has closed its evacuation shelters. However, if you are in need of shelter or relocation assistance, you can visit any of the Restoration Centers that are now open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. For Brooklyn, the site is in Red Hook at Coffey Park. The address is 85 Richards Street Brooklyn, 11231
Here is a list distribution locations for food, water, and blankets which operate daily from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. As the temperature continues to drop, New Yorkers can visit daytime warming centers from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mobile medical vans are also on-site in the Rockaways, Staten Island, and Coney Island.
In the meantime if you are in need of any assistance, I have enclosed some helpful information from city, state, and federal agencies.
New York City Department of Education
New York City Department of Health
New York City Housing Authority
New York City Human Resources Administration
New York State Department of Motor Vehicles
Federal Emergency Management Agency
Internal Revenue Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
U.S. Department of Labor
U.S. Postal Service
U.S. Small Business Administration
To report downed power lines or power outages, call 1-800 75-ConEd (1-800-752-6633) or visit www.coned.com. Please take all necessary precautions. Do not attempt to remove any of the wires.
If you have questions regarding your gas or electric service, or to report a gas emergency, call 1-718-643-4050 and visit www.nationalgrid.com for more post-storm tips.
There are many public schools across the city that have suffered structural damage, lack power or heat as a result of the storm. The DOE has posted school relocation information and continues to provide periodic updates.
New York City Department of Health
Here are some helpful Hurricane Sandy clean up tips:
Drinking water---NYC tap water is safe to drink.
Food safety--Any food – including packaged food – that was touched by flood water should be thrown away. The flood water may contain sewage or other contamination. Any food that was not consistently refrigerated should be discarded.
Protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning. Do not use generators or grills indoors—Carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious threat when these devices are used indoors. This should only be used outside and kept away from windows and vents.
Never use stove burners or ovens to heat your home—Using portable gas heaters, stove burners or ovens to heat homes is a fire hazard that also increases risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. If your heat isn’t working, wear extra layers of wear layers of dry, loose-fitting clothing, cover their heads, hands and feet. Warming centers are open daily.
Everyone should have and use carbon monoxide alarms. Those that are battery only should test the batteries if possible.
Call the NYC Poison Control Center if you think you have symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning--If someone experiences sleepiness, dizziness, headaches, confusion, weakness or the carbon monoxide alarm sounds, they should immediately seek fresh air and call the poison control center at 212–POISONS (212-764-7667.) They can also call 911, since poisoning is life threatening.
Important guides on carbon monoxide poisoning and food safety can be found at nyc.gov/health.
Do not swim in NYC waters—Due to power related shutdowns, wastewater treatment plants and pumping stations have discharged untreated wastewater into NYC waterways. It is advised that direct contact with the Hudson River, East River, New York Harbor, Jamaica Bay and the Kill Van Kull for recreational activities such as swimming, canoeing, kayaking, windsurfing or any other water activity that would entail possible direct contact with the water should be avoided until further notice.
Coping with stress after disaster—Experiencing traumatic events such as emergencies and disasters can be stressful, even overwhelming. The stress caused by these events can have a negative effect on how you feel, think and act. If you feel overwhelmed or are concerned about yourself or someone else, you can find help by calling 1-800-LIFENET, a free, confidential helpline for New York City residents, available 24/7, with trained staff ready to take your calls (For Spanish—1-877-AYUDESE; For Korean, Mandarin and Cantonese 1-877-990-8585). For more tips, visit nyc.gov/health.
Clean up precautions— Protect yourself by wearing masks, safety glasses, waterproof gloves and boots. Wash your hands and face before eating or drinking. Additional precautions on how to address mold and handle debris, can be found here.
New York City Housing Authority
Electricity has been restored to all NYCHA developments. Individual apartments affected by the storm are now being cleaned and restored. The New York City Housing Authority has authorized a rent abatement, which will credit residents for any days of the month in which residents were without essential services (electric, elevators, heat, or water) because of Hurricane Sandy storm damage. NYCHA – from Nov. 15, 2012 to Jan. 1, 2013 - will not start any new housing court actions or perform evictions for residents in developments affected by Sandy except for criminal acts or other exceptional cases. Click here to learn more.
New York City Human Resources Administration
Residents who are receiving food stamps or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits may receive up to 50 percent of his or her household's current monthly allotment without having to apply. However, you must meet the following criteria in order to qualify for the replacement benefit which will appear on your EBT card, November 5:
- a current food stamp client as of October 31, 2012
- the food lost must have been purchased with SNAP benefits
- lived in an affected area of the City and had power outages or flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy
- complete and sign appropriate paperwork within 10 days of reporting a loss
All road test locations in Brooklyn will be open starting Monday, December 3, 2012. For additional information, visit www.dmv.ny.gov.
Federal Emergency and Management Agency
At the direction of President Obama, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) continues to coordinate the federal government's assistance to support states in response and recovery of Hurricane Sandy. Individuals and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties in New York and New Jersey can begin applying for assistance by registering online or calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.
Eight Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) are open to assist homeowners, renters and business owners who sustained damage as a result of Hurricane Sandy. Specialists from the state of New York, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) are on hand to answer questions and provide information on the types of help available to storm survivors. The Disaster Recovery Centers act as a one-stop shop for eligible survivors to meet with state and federal workers and get help as quickly as possible. Although it can be a convenient way to get one-on-one help, visiting with a recovery specialist is not a requirement for disaster survivors. Brooklyn residents and business owners can visit the Cyclone Stadium 1904 Surf Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11224. Hours of operation: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Other centers can be found through this locator: http://www.fema.gov/disaster-recovery-centers.
Internal Revenue ServiceThe Internal Revenue Service has announced that it will postpone various tax filing and payment deadlines that were scheduled towards late October. Affected individuals and businesses will have until February 1, 2013 to file these returns and pay any taxes due. This includes the fourth quarter individual estimated tax payment, normally due Jan. 15, 2013. It also includes payroll and excise tax returns and accompanying payments for the third and fourth quarters, normally due on Oct. 31, 2012 and Jan. 31, 2013 respectively. It also applies to tax-exempt organizations required to file Form 990 series returns with an original or extended deadline falling during this period.
The IRS will abate any interest, late-payment or late-filing penalty that would otherwise apply. The IRS automatically provides this relief to any taxpayer located in the disaster area. Taxpayers need not contact the IRS to get this relief.
Beyond the relief provided by law to taxpayers in the FEMA-designated counties, the IRS will work with any taxpayer who resides outside the disaster area but whose books, records or tax professional are located in the areas affected by Hurricane Sandy. All workers assisting the relief activities in the covered disaster areas who are affiliated with a recognized government or philanthropic organization are eligible for relief. Taxpayers who live outside of the impacted area and think they may qualify for this relief need to contact the IRS at 866-562-5227.
In addition, the IRS is waiving failure-to-deposit penalties for federal payroll and excise tax deposits normally due on or after the disaster area start date and before Nov. 26, if the deposits are made by Nov. 26, 2012. Details on available relief can be found on the disaster relief page on IRS.gov.
The IRS wants to assure taxpayers, businesses and tax preparers that it is working aggressively to monitor the situation and provide additional relief as needed. So far, IRS filing and payment relief applies to the following localities inNew York(starting Oct. 27): Bronx, Kings, Nassau, New York, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, Suffolk and Westchester.
In addition, the IRS today alerted employers and other taxpayers that because Hurricane Sandy is designated as a qualified disaster for federal tax purposes, qualified disaster relief payments made to individuals by their employer or any person can be excluded from those individuals’ taxable income.
Qualified disaster relief payments include amounts to cover necessary personal, family, living or funeral expenses that were not covered by insurance. They also include expenses to repair or rehabilitate personal residences or repair or replace the contents to the extent that they were not covered by insurance. Again, these payments would not be included in the individual recipient’s gross income.
The IRS also announced that the designation of Hurricane Sandy as a qualified disaster means that employer-sponsored private foundations may provide disaster relief to employee-victims in areas affected by the hurricane without affecting their tax-exempt status. Like all charitable organizations, employer-sponsored private foundations should follow the guidance in Publication 3833, Disaster Relief: Providing Assistance Through Charitable Organizations, in providing assistance to employees or their family members affected by Hurricane Sandy.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture regional Food and Nutrition Service leadership is working with state commissioners and program administrators in the affected area to meet food needs for emergency shelters and feeding sites and to assist with Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) requests. For more information, call 202-720-2791.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is coordinating with FEMA and affected states to identify housing providers who may have available housing units, including public housing agencies and multi-family owners. HUD is also speeding federal disaster assistance to New York and New Jersey to provide support to homeowners and low-income renters forced from their homes in the most heavily impacted areas. The President’s major disaster declarations for New York and New Jersey allow HUD to offer foreclosure relief and other assistance to some families in the designated counties. NOTE: HUD has granted a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures and forbearances of Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured home mortgages. For more information, click here or call 888-297-8685.
The U.S. Department of Labor has announced a $27,792,296 National Emergency Grant to assist New York with cleanup and recovery efforts. The funds are being awarded to the New York Department of Labor to assist with the restoration of public lands and infrastructure.
The U.S. Postal Service is prepared for a quick response before, during and after a hurricane; and has procedures in place to expedite recovery efforts, including making sure there is timely delivery of mailed ballots. Voters in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy as well as other customers can obtain updates on postal facility operation changes due to the storm on the Mail Service Updates page on the Postal Service website. The safety of employees, the public and the U.S. Mail remains the top priority, and the USPS will continue to post Mail Service updates for residential customers on their front home page on usps.com, located in the bottom right corner. Access this information here. Also, USPS will continue to post updated information for business mailers here.
The U.S. Small Business Administration has opened a Business Recovery Center at the NYC Business Solution Brooklyn Center 9 Bond St., 5th floor Brooklyn, NY 11201 that will provide one-on-one help to business owners seeking disaster assistance for losses caused by Hurricane Sandy. The hours of operation are as follows: weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Disaster loans are also available and can be filed electronically.