My last stop was at the FEMA disaster recovery center on Central Avenue.
Kathryn Fairleigh, the center manager, told Councilman Sanders that she really needed city and state agencies represented. She has reps from HUD, but public-housing residents came in seeking information that only the city Housing Authority can answer. And people with complaints about price gouging by area merchants and contractors need advice and protection that only the city and state consumer-affairs agencies can offer. Surprisingly, no one from the state Insurance Department has deemed it important to set up a help desk.
In the wake of such a disaster, Mayor Bloomberg can’t possibly think 311 is adequate — can he?
Things are very tough in Far Rockaway, but it’s not New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward. Yet residents need clear government guidance to help sort out who recovers and who gets permanently displaced — and how it’s all to happen.
Those solutions will come from direct knowledge and understanding of needs, rather than from divisive hyperbole.In Far Rockaway, I saw people who’d been hit hard — but were also people embracing their neighbors and working collectively to speed a return to normalcy.