Tag Archive | "East Bronx"

Bronx Voters Flocked to the Polls in Spite of Sandy

Superstorm Sandy made its presence known on Nov. 6, as voters in the presidential election throughout New York City scrambled to find alternative  polling sites to replace the ones damaged by the storm. Sandy caused 60 total changes in voting locations across the five boroughs. Three of those changes took place in the Bronx. The Locust Point polling site moved from the Locust Point Civic Association to the parking lot of the MTA Throgs Neck complex. Soundview residents voted at the I.S. 174 Eugene T. Maleska School instead of P.S. 69 Journey Prep School, and Riverdale voters went to the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, which served as a substitute for Draddy Hall at Manhattan College. Though some people in the affected areas may not have been aware of last minute changes, most voters said they were notified with time to spare.

An MTA parking lot in Throgs Neck served as a makeshift polling site. (VIDUR MALIK/The Bronx Ink)

Riverdale residents relied on the Internet to get updates on site changes. Those without online access were left in the dark. “On the news they’re telling you to go to a website to check your polling site, but what if you don’t have Internet?” said Irene Bernstein, 63, of Riverdale. Bernstein expressed concern for the elderly, who she said may not use computers or may have lost Internet access in the storm. “The elderly are going to be disenfranchised,” Bernstein said. Several voters from outside the Bronx cast their ballots in the college polling site, making use of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order to let New Yorkers vote anywhere in the state. In Locust Point, a quiet, picturesque neighborhood in the southeast Bronx, voting seemed to take place without any hitches. A makeshift white tent was set up off the Throgs Neck Expressway on Monday evening. Voting machines were brought in Tuesday morning. Despite the quick turnaround, Locust Point residents said they were notified of the change in good time by the Civic Association and the Board of Elections. They received emails, letters, Facebook notifications and information from local newspapers.

In addition to flyers and email notifications, residents found the new polling sites posted on the the Civic Association gate on Locust Point. (YI DU/The Bronx Ink)

“This was not an inconvenience at all,” said Debbie Suarino of Locust Point. Suarino’s basement was flooded with three feet of water during the storm, but she made sure to vote. She got her polling site updates from the Civic Association and the New York Daily News. Louis Bevilacqua, who lives across the street from the Civic Association building, was hit with almost six feet of water. He made it to the voting tent, but said he was focusing more on getting through the aftermath of the storm than the election. “Was it a top priority? If I missed out on it, I would not have cried,” said Bevilacqua. For Daniel Tyx, a senior at SUNY Maritime, the storm may have actually made his voting experience easier. Tyx, who is originally from Buffalo, would have had to vote absentee or in Buffalo if not for Cuomo’s executive order. He said he logged into Google to find the new polling place and had to ask for directions to find it, but understood the difficult circumstances.

A last-minute white tent served as the polling site for Locust Point residents. (YI DU/The Bronx Ink)

“With the given situation, it was more of the best they could do,” Tyx said. Ruth Desplant, 52, of Soundview, learned about the changes in voting locations from flyers posted on storefronts, on gate entrances and slipped under residents’ doors. Desplant was constantly checking the Board of Elections website on Monday until it crashed later that evening. Along with her neighbors in a 2-block radius on Underhill Avenue, Desplant did not have electricity for a week after the storm hit. She woke up on Monday morning with the lights inside her home turned on. Desplant waited for her husband and 19-year old son to finish voting after she cast her own ballot at I.S. 174 Eugene T. Maleska School on White Plains Road.  Desplant made sure to inform her son, a first-time voter, about the candidates’ positions in the months leading up to Election Day. “I explained the ballots to him and that he has to be aware because this will affect him for years to come,” said Desplant. “You can’t complain if you don’t vote.”

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After Sandy, Hunts Point’s Low Lying Areas Struggle with Flooding

A disaster relief organization in the low-lying Hunts Point area of the Bronx experienced heavy flooding and a challenge to distribute supplies. (COLEEN JOSE/The Bronx Ink)

Early this morning, when Tim Reeve opened the storehouse of the disaster relief organization World Vision in Hunts Point, he saw devastation up close: water from Sandy had flooded the building. A delivery truck was submerged in three-feet-deep water. Pink collared-shirts inside plastic bags floated beside cases of pencils and hygiene kits that awaited delivery from the Hunts Point warehouse to hard-hit areas in New York and the region. As emergency response teams rush to rescue residents from flooding and fires, organizations that are gearing up to join the efforts are facing challenges in the storm's aftermath. In Hunts Point, a flood-prone area in the Bronx, organizations like World Vision and major food distribution companies are struggling to resume operating. “At this point, we’re trying to do emergency response, but right now, it appears that we’re in a disaster ourselves,” said Reeve, World Vision’s storehouse manager for New York. Reeve estimates that supplies will be ready for distribution by Thursday and that the warehouse may move to an alternative space. The extent of Hurricane Sandy’s devastation on millions of residents from the shores of North Carolina to Maine is still being determined, as floods, power outages and snow continue to displace thousands of residents from their communities. Eight million people in 15 states remain without electricity. The federal government estimates $20 billion in damages from the storm. Sandy hits the industrial zone in Hunts Point, Bronx from Adam Perez on Vimeo. Inside World Vision's office, a fire alarm blared as a project coordinator pointed to a water line three feet above the soaked carpet. A kitchen refrigerator was flipped on its side. Relief supplies were strewn across the warehouse. Reeve did not expect water from the East River to reach the storehouse, which is located near a boardwalk in Barretto Park. But the park’s benches were already underwater as the storm raged and the sea rose on Monday. There were no sandbags to buffer the area from the surge. Chad Narine, an MTA track worker, witnessed an electrical transformer exploding underneath the sidewalk outside of the MTA compound on Tiffany Street around 11:30 p.m. on Monday. “I was standing in the transit yard inside,” said Narine, 34, “when I heard a loud boom and saw a white a flash.” Steam continued to rise from a hole in the sidewalk on Tuesday while an emergency vehicle from ConEdison, which provides electricity, gas and steam, monitored the damaged transformer.

"New York needs to be more careful with powerful storms like these," said Adama Makouyate, an employee at a food-distribution plant in a flood-prone area of Hunts Point. (COLEEN JOSE/The Bronx Ink)

New York City's Office of Emergency Management lists the low-lying area in Zone B, meaning it faces a moderate risk of flooding and likelihood of evacuation during storm surges and hurricanes. But the flooding in the area could have a major impact on the entire metropolitan area. Hunts Point is home to the region’s largest-food distribution center. Everyday, more than 15,000 delivery trucks come in and out of the area’s produce, meat and seafood market, which supplies much of the city and surrounding region’s grocery markets and restaurants. In the Co-Op Meat Market, warehouse manager Milton Pinto recalled being stranded with 31 fellow workers before the storm neared landfall. Most workers lived in Brooklyn and the Bronx. They didn't arrive home until 5 p.m the next day.The meat market closed operations on Tuesday for the first time. Raphael Candelario, a worker at New Fulton Fish Market, was one of two employees in the distribution plant while the waves pummeled the rocky shores. Candelario, 47, arrived to monitor the site at 5 a.m. Monday. “Water came up to the plant between 3 to 4 a.m.,” said Candelario. The river's waters also reached the top of a staircase in a pier house next to the market. In a nearby food distribution plant, Sultana Distribution Services Inc., a security guard surveyed damages from the storm. Adama Makouyate, 45, dressed in a red raincoat and black pants, expressed awe at the 22 stone barriers that were blown 10 to 20 feet away from the edge of a lot facing the East River. The barriers, which weigh more than a ton, lined the lot to protect the distribution plant from the surge. Metal fences lay flat on the pavement, indicating the hurricane’s wind power, which exceeded 70 miles per hour. Hurricane Sandy exposed the city’s lack of storm barriers and infrastructural safeguards. During separate news conferences today, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Michael Bloomberg discussed plans to armor the city from storm surges and sea level rise. Cuomo proposed the possibility of building levees in Lower Manhattan. “We have a 100-year flood every two years now,” said Cuomo. “The construction of this city did not anticipate these kinds of situations. We are only a few feet above sea level.” Additional reporting by Adam Perez and Jan Hendrik Hinzel.

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Hurricane Sandy Barrels Northeast, Raising Caution in Bronx Waterfront

Memories of damages from last year's Hurricane Irene frame cautious preparation for a powerful storm system barreling towards the northeast. Hurricane Sandy, known in social networking sites as 'Frankenstorm', is expected to hit the Eastern Seaboard as early as Sunday evening. Residents in waterfront areas of the East Bronx are preparing for the worst: protecting windows that may shatter from debris brought by strong winds and stocking up on basic needs, NY1 reports. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and city officials urged residents in flood-prone areas to be alert and informed about evacuation zones. Severe weather is forecasted to last for several days.    

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MTA Reveals Rail Service Proposal to East Bronx Neighborhoods

MTA officials launched a series of informational sessions to outline a proposed Metro-North rail service to four neighborhoods in the East Bronx. The project, which is to be completed by 2019, aims to provide swifter access to and from the area to Midtown Manhattan, Westchester and communities outside of the city. Construction of the new train stations are being proposed for Hunts Point, Parkchester, Morris Park and Co-op City, DNAinfo reports. Expansion of the Metro-North service would connect the existing Hudson line with one line along the west side of Manhattan. The existing New Haven line in Westchester would connect to another line along the Bronx. MTA officials' proposal to build six new train stations intends to shorten the commute of roughly 5,000 Bronx residents who currently use the Metro-North line to travel to their jobs outside the city and to foster economic growth in the Bronx.    

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New East Bronx train line project eyed

New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority is eyeing a new train project linking four new stops in the East Bronx to Penn Station. Charles Moerdler, an MTA board member from Riverdale, told the NY Daily News the new line would be a boon for East Bronx institutions such as Albert Einstein College of Medicine, as well as East Bronx residents working in Westchester County and Rockland County, as well as Manhattan. The project would require at least $200 million from New York and $100 million from Connecticut - money that the states have yet to commit. MTA spokesman said the Federal Environmental Assessment should be completed by 2013, so the project could not start until 2016.  

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