City leaders held an oversight hearing Tuesday to examine the city’s use of evacuation shelters and hotels to temporarily house those displaced by Hurricane Sandy.
"Today’s hearing is an opportunity to examine how the city’s emergency evacuation and transitional shelters performed during and after the storm and how we can better prepare for the next emergency," said Council Speaker Christine Quinn, D-Manhattan.
The City Council Committees on General Welfare, Oversight and Investigations, Aging, Health and Mental Health focused on shelter conditions, supplies and staffing during the hearing, raising concerns about inadequate supplies and food available in shelters during the storm.
During the hearing, shelter volunteers and advocates testified that some shelters were inaccessible and medical records did not transfer properly. This made appropriate medical treatment difficult for those displaced by Sandy with special needs, including the elderly, medically frail or people with disabilities.
Some evacuation shelters were reportedly overcrowded and did not have adequate supplies and basic necessities such as cribs, food and blankets, a statement by the Council noted. "Additionally, it is unclear how the city coordinated the distribution of supplies to shelters, or who from the city was managing certain shelters," the statement continued.
Council Members also examined FEMA’s and the city’s use of hotels as transitional shelters for evacuees in the weeks and months since Hurricane Sandy.
Approximately 2,200 households are currently being temporarily housed in hotels through the FEMA’s Transitional Sheltering Assistance program, the Council noted.
The Council also heard from advocates for the homeless, legal service organizations and shelter volunteers who shared their experiences in evacuation shelters and hotels in the weeks following the storm.
Since the storm, FEMA has opened a citywide emergency response headquarters that is located in Forest Hills.