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article imageCold weather, housing crisis threatens those displaced by Sandy

By Greta McClain     Nov 5, 2012 in World
New York - As trucks loads of fuel are delivered and the lights slowly begin to illuminate parts of New York, finding housing for those displaced by Hurricane Sandy has become the next priority.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg estimates between 30,000 and 40,000 people will need new short-term and long-term housing. At least half of those live in public housing, and according to Bloomberg, some of the city’s largest housing developments will be “out of commission for a very long time.”
With temperatures dropping, Bloomberg is concerned about those who must face possible hypothermia or using candles, stoves or fires for warmth, increasing the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and fire.
As of Sunday, 106 New York City Housing Authority buildings remain without power. Many of those building are located in areas most affected by the storm, such as Coney Island in Brooklyn, Rockaway Beach in Queens, and Alphabet City in Manhattan.
During a news conference on Sunday, Bloomberg stated:
“Our first concern is to make sure they have food, water and security at the same time as we are working on more long term solutions. My recollection is numbers may have been similar in Katrina. We’re working on it. Were going to continue to get this done.”
New York Governor Cuomo agreed, saying:
"This is going to be a massive massive housing problem and you’re going to need a number of options for a number of situations, short term long term. So it’s going to be a true challenge. We’ll get through but it’s a true challenge. It’s starting to get cold. People are in homes that are uninhabitable. It’s increasingly clear they are uninhabitable when the temperature drops and the heat doesn't go on. People don’t like to leave their homes, but the reality is in the temperature.”
Both Bloomberg and Cuomo plan to keep those displaced as close as possible to their homes, but neither could give details on where the displaced would be housed.
Colder weather is not the only issue facing those whose homes were damaged by Hurricane Sandy. According to the New York Department of Health, mold can grow and multiply in homes under such conditions as flooding. Mold can cause conditions such as hay fever or asthma, as well as irritation of the eyes, nose, throat or lungs. Serious infections and toxic effects have also been associated with mold.
According to FEMA, mold can begin to grow within 48 hours from when flooding first occurs.
Regardless of reasons people become displaced from their homes, finding housing will be difficult. Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York city native, said due to a limited number of available hotel rooms, or high housing costs, New York faces challenges that differ from those in other regions of the country. Residents of the hard hit area of Staten Island have very few hotels in which to seek shelter. Attempting to find housing in other parts of New York would result in much higher housing costs, which makes it difficult for those with limited income. The elderly and disabled are some of those who will have be biggest trouble finding new housing.
Schumer, who has been in contact with FEMA officials, said unlike Hurricane Katrina, the agency has enough funding for the Sandy recovery. He also noted more funding may be needed in the future.
During a news conference, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said:
“All disasters go through cycles. At some point, people are going to think everything is back to normal and we’re done. We don’t leave until everything is done. This will not be done in months, this will not be done in a year. This is a long-term commitment from the federal government that we come together as Americans to support our citizens in their time of need.”
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