Last week, the city launched a series of NYC Restore centers, an initiative that connects residents and businesses that have been impacted by the storm to deal with their financial, heath, environmental, nutritional and residential needs. The centers are located in the hardest-hit areas, including as Red Hook, Breezy Point and Coney Island.
“We are taking our ongoing relief efforts an important step further by setting up one-stop city offices that make it simpler and more convenient for New Yorker get the helps they need,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg last week.
In Red Hook, NYC Restore has set up trailers to assist people in the area around Coffey Park, located next to the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) station. Despite the two being close in proximity many community members were waiting on lines for free food at food trucks just across the street from the two centers on Thursday, November 15.
Anne Montesano, the site manager of the Red Hook center, said that they just want to be there to help the community. The center is designed to meet a number of relief needs, including assisting the public with getting the right documentation together to file a claim correctly.
“We have a number of representatives from city agencies,” Montesano said.
For example, she said that people who find mold in their homes may not necessarily know how to file a claim with the Department of Heath and Mental Hygiene, or even that they are supposed to.
Barbara Lingobardi, a lifelong Red Hook resident, was returning to the NYC Restore and FEMA centers on Thursday, and said that she hopes her paperwork will be processed soon.
When asked about how her experience has been with the new center she said,
“They were like angels,” she said of her experience at the center.
However, she said the process of getting her claim looked at by the right departments is taking its time. “Slowly but surely,” she said.
Lingobardi said she was checking on her claim for her Medicare through FEMA, because her usual forms were washed away in the storm waters. While her experience was a pleasant one, she said that many residents have been denied claims for various reasons and are not happy with the process.
Montesano said that the center was doing all it can to help connect people and businesses with the proper government agencies, but stressed that everyone needs to be patient.
“It's a process,” she said.