First Peoples Medical Relief Reportback Grace Keller

New York City, Nov. 3, 2012 — A Peoples' Law Clinic lawyer who works on eviction and foreclosure defense sent volunteers and street medics to Housing Authority buildings full of elderly and disabled people that lost electricity in superstorm Sandy five days ago.

Volunteers and street medics checked all apartments on all 23 floors of Warbasse Houses in Coney Island. They found many unevacuated residents who needed refills of prescription diabetes, asthma, heart, and blood pressure medications. Many residents did not have water and could not get downstairs without the elevator. The volunteers and street medics carried water to all floors where elderly residents were trapped.

Volunteers checked on residents of Coney Island Houses, five 14-story buildings with 535 apartments housing 1,400 people before the storm. Residents did not have water, but some government people had been there and evacuated some residents in medical distress.

The more troubling situation was Far Rockaway. Volunteers and medics went door to door collecting prescriptions to fill for people. They found people who fled their homes when water came crashing in, and left their prescription bottles behind. They were sheltering with children and disabled spouses, and were not able to move to another location to get a new prescription from a doctor or get the prescription filled. Medics needed, but were unable to get prescribers to their locations. With all the displacement, what appear to be abandoned buildings are actually places where whole families are taking refuge.

A doctor and two social workers spent the day on Staten Island. They took the ferry, then waited a long time for a bus. By the time they reached Crossroads Church, it was closed. Earlier in the day there were lots of volunteers handing out supplies at the church. Closer to the ferry, the Unitarian church seemed to just be a supply drop-off point.

At this point, it seems to be much easier to be of use in Brooklyn, in part because of the greater population density and large elderly population in the housing projects.

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