News from the ground: New York Chapter Sandy Update

News from the ground: New York Chapter Sandy Update

  • by Architecture for Humanity
  • Nov 19, 2012
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Last Wednesday the New York Chapter volunteer squad held their first field orientation and assembled teams to go out to Breezy Point, Coney Island, Sea Gate, Tottenville, and Hoboken to begin assessing needs and collecting stories about each community over the weekend - the full report of observations after the break.

The effort marks only the start of AFHNY's work with communities affected by Sandy. The Chapter will hold its second orientation and team building the week after Thanksgiving. The time and location information will be posted to the Chapter Network in the coming days and will be sent out via email for those who have signed up.

Volunteers who have a vehicle and can drive to some of the more remote areas are vital to our efforts. When you RSVP for an orientation, please let us know if you are willing to provide transportation for you team and your neighborhood of origin.

The following are reports from the teams:

Breezy Point, Queens

  • 252 properties surveyed

Every home in this area was affected either flooding, fire, or both. Due to limited daylight during the weekends, residents were busy cleaning debris from their property. Residents expressed interest in speaking to the Team. Another trip will follow in the coming weeks.


Coney Island and Seagate, Brooklyn

  • 24 properties surveyed

While most homes and businesses on Coney Island remain structurally intact, all the buildings visited by the team will require extensive repairs. These range from demolishing the entire first floor and basement interior walls and floors, due to fast growing mold within the cavities, to repair and/or replacement of entire mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems destroyed by sea water inundation. Most homes in Sea Gate along the ocean side of the peninsula fared far worse, with exterior walls missing from many of them and debris, ranging from large blocks of dislodged concrete foundations to a single shoe, littering the shore.

The overall emotional and physical damage throughout this area remains severe. People who came back to their homes after evacuating found that all of their belongings had been destroyed by the rising water and soot that came with it. Three weeks after the storm, some residents still do not have the basic amenities of electricity, heat, and gas. The streets are still dark in certain areas with dozens of police officers patrolling through the night, and most of the businesses along the main streets are closed. However, most residents are optimistic about the community's ability to band together to recover.


Tottenville, Staten Island
The group focused its fieldwork on the residential southern area, bounded by Hylan Boulevard to the north, Sprague Avenue to the east, Surf Avenue to the south and Massachusetts Street to the west.

  • 10 assessments completed on-site with additional distribution of forms for possible future contact

The shorefront block of Yetman Avenue experienced the most extreme destruction; only the foundations remained on a few homes and others were missing multiple walls. The community to the southwest was buffered from the storm surge by parkland borders, and minor damage with basement flooding and power restoration needed north of Biltop Avenue.

Residents cited community support and cohesion along with an extensive volunteer response from across the city and nation as vital factors in their initial ability to clean up after the storm.


Hoboken, New Jersey

  • walked most of the community and visually surveyed the damage

Most affected were basements and first floors of houses in some cases in a 10 x 4 block area from 7th North to 14th and Garden to Monroe. The Hoboken train station and PATH station underwent water damage, and while New Jersey transit is still running from the station, many parts of the train station are not usable at this time. The PATH is not estimated to be running from Hoboken for another two to three months.