Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts
The core of Two Bridges’ mission is to provide and preserve affordable housing in the neighborhoods we serve. Since the 1970s, we have created almost 1,500 units of affordable housing across the Lower East Side, primarily along the East River Waterfront. Given our direct proximity to the river, our buildings and two offices were vulnerable to the destructive impact of Hurricane Sandy’s storm surge.
In the darkness of Monday evening, October 29th, Hurricane Sandy’s nearly 14' high storm surge flowed up and over and into homes and businesses, wreaking havoc on essential infrastructure: Power, Transportation, Communication. The human impacts were even greater—lives lost, homes destroyed, and many people isolated and cut off from food, water & medicine.
The Lower East Side was among the hardest hit neighborhoods of Manhattan, especially along the shore, where high-rise public housing stands on low-elevation fill, barely above sea level. The elderly or infirm were trapped on upper floors of high rises when elevators failed or flooded, and pitch-black stairwells discouraged even the able-bodied from taking a chance on the stairs. For four long and uncertain days, the Two Bridges neighborhood was classified as part of the "Powerless Zone"— one of many areas lacking electricity. But during this crisis, Two Bridges’ power came from its people.
Regardless of the lack of office space, electricity and other basics, Two Bridges’ staff worked around the clock to ensure individual residents, seniors, and families had access to food and water in the immediate days following the storm. We could not have accomplished this work without the help of our volunteers, partners, community based organizations and elected officials. We would like to thank you all for providing all the assistance that you have in this time of crisis.
- All local Lower East Side organizations who are helping the neighborhood get through this challenging time: Hamilton Madison House, CAAAV, Hester Street Collaborative, Made in the LES
- Gigi Li, Community Board 3
- Councilmember Jessica S. Lappin & her staff
- The Recovers Team for providing a space to reach out for support.
- City Meals on Wheels, NYC Office of Emergency Management, Pathmark & Veselka for donating food
- Local members of the Lambda Phi Epsilon Fraternity
- Families with Children from China (New York)
- Our local elected officials: Councilmember Margaret Chin, New York State Senator Daniel L. Squadron, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer
- Two Bridges Tower and Senior residence superintendents Donald, Manny, Tarik and all Grenadier maintenance staff who have been working incredibly long hours to ensure everyone's wellness and safety
- All volunteers who have donated their time to find resources and then travel to Two Bridges to drop them off
Though the return of electricity to our buildings has improved conditions greatly, the need for your support continues. Our community room office, which manages our after-school and community-wellness programs, was damaged beyond repair and will take significant resources to replace. Please consider donating to Two Bridges to help us rebuild so that we may continue to have a central place where residents are able to receive these services despite the storm’s impact.
Finally, this storm event gives us all pause, especially in thinking about the long-term sustainability of our waterfront community and the deeper level of planning and design necessary to keep residents in place and safe in this neighborhood. When the emergencies have subsided, we will continue to push to engage the city in dealing meaningfully with issues of stormwater & storm surge in the neighborhood. In the meanwhile, we continue to work with our neighbors, partner organizations, and local elected officials to ensure that the residents and businesses of our neighborhoods have access to the resources they need to fully recover from this devastating storm.
Victor J. Papa
For more photos of Hurricane Sandy and the story about what happened in the Two Bridges Neighborhood, please visit our Facebook.
Visit this page to read articles on the work that we have been doing.