Hurricane Sandy

Disaster Distress Helpline – 1.800.985.5990
The Disaster Distress Helpline will continue to provide immediate crisis counseling during Thanksgiving and beyond to people affected by Hurricane Sandy. A disaster or tragedy is unexpected and often brings out strong emotions. The Disaster Distress Helpline can provide immediate counseling to anyone who needs help in dealing with the problems related to Hurricane Sandy. The Helpline is a 24 hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week resource that responds to people who need crisis counseling after experiencing a natural or man-made disaster or tragedy. The Helpline has been operating from the outset of the storm and will continue to be available to people in need of its services – including during the Thanksgiving holiday. Sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Helpline immediately connects callers to trained and caring professionals from the closest crisis counseling center in the nationwide network of centers. The Helpline staff will provide confidential counseling, referrals and other needed support services.

New York City Rapid Repairs

  • This new and unprecedented program will send teams of contractors and City inspectors into neighborhoods impacted by Hurricane Sandy and quickly and efficiently make necessary repairs to damaged homes.
  • They are bringing in contractors who will be given responsibility for specific geographic areas hard hit by Sandy.
  • These contractors will be responsible for repairing the homes of anyone who wants to take part in NYC Rapid Repairs.
  • Under the typical FEMA process, it is up to the homeowner to arrange for repair work and carry it out, but this new system will make repairs happen more quickly and efficiently.
  • Beginning Tuesday 11/13, homeowners will be able sign up for NYC Rapid Repairs by going to, calling 311.
  • They will need a FEMA ID number, which they can get by registering at or by calling 1-800-621-3362.
  • The NYC Rapid Repairs teams will work closely with City agencies, including the Department of Buildings and Department of Housing Preservation and Development, to make sure that any necessary inspections and certifications are done as quickly as possible.
  • If they so choose, homeowners still have the option of having repairs made through their insurance company or with a standard reimbursement from FEMA. If they choose NYC Rapid Repairs, we will handle getting the contractors in and getting the work done.
  • Homes eligible for NYC Rapid Repairs will be those who have received a green placard from the Department of Buildings, indicating that the home is structurally sound.

Information for Homeowners Restoring their Power and Making Repairs:

  • The Department of Buildings has a list of helpful documents related to repairs and power restoration:
  • This flyer from LIPA, the NYC Department of Buildings, and the Office of Emergency Management contains information on the process for a customer to restore power to their home:
  • The Department of Buildings will waive all application and permit fees for any work done on buildings damaged by the storm.

$27 Million Federal Grant to Hire Workers to Clean Up Communities Impacted by Hurricane Sandy
Grant targets New Yorkers who lost employment due to Hurricane Sandy or those Unemployed and Not Receiving Unemployment Benefits. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that New York State has received $27,792,296 in federal Disaster National Emergency Grant (NEG) funds. The grant will be used to hire workers who lost their jobs as a direct result of Hurricane Sandy in Bronx, Kings, New York, Richmond, Queens, Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland and Westchester counties to help clean up impacted communities. To be eligible, workers must be unemployed as a result of Hurricane Sandy or unemployed and not receiving unemployment benefits or other types of income support. Workers interested in this program should call 1-888-4-NYSDOL (1-888-469-7365). The New York State Department of Labor will work with local officials to recruit and hire workers.

SBA Offers Low-interest Federal Disaster Loans to New York Residents and Businesses Impacted by Hurricane Sandy: Rates as Low as 1.688% for Residents, 4% for Businesses, 3% for Private Nonprofit Organizations

Key points for Residents:
Disaster loans for residents to help pay for repair or replacement of disaster-damaged property Homeowners may borrow up to $200,000 to repair or replace their disaster-damaged primary residence. Homeowners and renters may borrow up to $40,000 to replace disaster-damaged personal property, including vehicles. Terms may be up to 30 years, SBA determines loan amounts and terms based on each applicant’s financial condition. Homeowners and renters should submit their SBA disaster loan application, even if they are not sure if they will need or want a loan. There are no costs to apply and no loan fees or points on approved loans. They will have time to decide on their loan. If SBA cannot approve their application, in most cases they are referred to FEMA’s Other Needs Assistance (ONA) program for possible additional help.

Key points for Businesses:
Businesses of any size and most private nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster-damaged real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other assets. Terms may be up to 30 years, SBA determines loan amounts and terms based on each applicant’s financial condition. For small business and most private nonprofit organizations Loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster – SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) Small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture, owners of rental property and most private nonprofit organizations of all sizes may apply for a working capital loan to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster (regardless of whether the business suffered any property damage). The maximum business disaster loan is $2 million for any combination of property damage and working capital) Business owners should submit their SBA disaster loan application, even if they are not sure if they will need or want a loan. There are no costs to apply and no loan fees or points on approved loans. Once approved, they will have time to consider their options.

Three ways to apply

  1. Apply in person at any Disaster Recovery Center or Business Recovery Center SBA disaster representatives are at these centers to meet individually with New York residents and business owners, explain how an SBA low-interest disaster loan can help pay for their disaster losses, answer questions, and help each individual complete their application.
  2. Apply online using SBA’s secure Web site at (available at most centers)
  3. Apply by mailing your application to SBA at 14925 Kingsport Rd., Ft. Worth, TX 76155-2243

For Center locations and additional information call (800) 659-2955 or check online at these links:

SBA disaster assistance information:

Apply online at:

Information for Hurricane Sandy:
Click here for locations in New York to meet with SBA to receive assistance.

Citizens Committee For New York City Hurricane Relief Grants Up to $5,000
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, small volunteer-led groups responded quickly to meet the needs of local residents. Does your neighborhood of school group need immediate emergency funding? Citizens Committee is awarding grants to volunteer-led groups providing relief to areas hit especially hard by Hurricane Sandy. Grants of up to $5,000. Immediate notification upon application submission. For more information, contact Saleen at 212-822-9566 or

New York City Service
Feel like volunteering to help Superstorm Sandy efforts? Then visit the New York City Service web site at: All kinds of volunteer opportunities are listed there. Make a difference!

Federal Food Stamp Program “Sandy” Related Changes

  1. Individuals who receive SNAP (food stamps, will be reimbursed on their EBT card, for 50% of their monthly allotment to help purchase food lost due to the storm.
  2. People who receive SNAP (food stamps) that lost more than 50% of their food for the month because of the storm, may be able to get reimbursed for more of their lost food by completing and submitting the form attached to this email. A link to the form is also here:
  3. People who receive SNAP (food stamps) will be able to temporarily purchase hot/prepared food from retailers licensed by the Food and Nutrition Service of the USDA, using their SNAP benefits.  This is important because SNAP recipients are generally prohibited from purchasing hot/prepared food. However, because of many people left without electricity or ways to cook food, this prohibition will be waived until November 30th.
  4. People who lost food but not on food stamps, MAY be eligible for a reimbursement to cover the cost of spoiled food due to power outages from ConEdison. The application for that program is attached and available by following the link here:

Tree Damage
During the storm emergency, the Parks Department is prioritizing only service requests for storm related tree damage. To report a tree issue, please call 311 or text 311-692, or submit an online forestry service request at Please be patient as the Parks Department is experiencing extremely high call volumes, and you may experience intermittent delays with the online request form also due to extremely high volume.

Con Edison Reminder
Con Edison reminds customers to continue to stay away from downed wires and use extreme caution in flooded basements. If you can, call 1-800-752-6633 to report outages or inquire about service restorations or go to

Hurricane Sandy National Grid Natural Gas Update
Hurricane Sandy brought unprecedented heavy rains, flooding, high winds, downed wires, and natural gas interruptions to our area. National Grid wants customers to stay safe and offers the following tips while natural gas service is being restored:

If you smell natural gas, contact National Grid as soon as possible:

Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island: 718-643-4050
On Long Island and the Rockaways: 1-800-490-0045
If you do not smell natural gas but have no gas service:
Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island: 718-643-4050
On Long Island and the Rockaways: 1-800-930-5003

Do not turn off the gas meter even in the event of an evacuation. The gas meter should be left on to maintain proper pressure in the gas piping within the house and to prevent water from entering the lines should flooding occur. Most gas appliances have safety valves that shut off the flow of gas automatically if the pilot light goes out. If your appliances have been in contact with water, please contact a licensed plumbing or heating contractor to make sure the appliances are safe to operate. If National Grid has shut your gas service off for safety reasons, please contact a licensed plumbing or heating contractor before contacting National Grid. The licensed plumbing or heating contractor will make sure that your service is safe to restore. Don’t forget to check outdoor appliances, such as pool heaters and gas grills. Check on elderly family members, neighbors and others who may need assistance. Customers also can stay in touch with National Grid by following us on Facebook, Twitter and on our website

Federal Emergency Management Agency
The FEMA Call Center at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) is currently operating seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) until further notice. To register for disaster relief online, visit:

Reporting Superstorm Sandy Damage in New York City
In order to qualify for New York City disaster relief assistance, the City must estimate the storm’s total effect on city residents and employees. Be prepared to answer questions about the extent of your property’s damage. You may call 311 to report downed trees. To begin the registration process, visit:

Parks & Playground Volunteers Are Needed
Hurricane Sandy has indeed left a lot of damage in our local parks and playgrounds. New York Service is looking for volunteers through Sunday throughout the five boroughs from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm. Queens is covering Baisley Pond Park, Brookville Park and a few other locations. For additional information, or to volunteer, visit

New York Police Department Request For Donations
The Community Affairs Bureau of the New York City Police Department is seeking donations for those still in need of help after Superstorm Sandy. They are seeking donations of the following items (or similar):

Food Items – canned goods; non-perishable food items; individual snacks (chips, cookies, fruit snacks, granola bars, pudding); canned milk; bottled water.

Non-Food Items – paper products (facial tissue, toilet paper, paper towels); baby care products (diapers, formula, wipes); trash bags; aluminum foil, plastic wrap and sandwich bags; cleaning products (bleach, sponges, dishwashing liquid); bath and bedroom items (towels, sheets and pillow cases); personal care products (deodorant, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, conditioner; feminine hygiene products); flash lights, batteries and backpacks.

Clothing Items – all types of clothing for all ages and genders, particularly clothing for the approaching colder weather.

Store owners, or other large businesses interested in bulk donations should contact the above number to coordinate logistics. These supplies, while collected in Queens, will be distributed to all affected areas citywide. At this time please do not bring donations to your local police facility, while much appreciated we need to ensure an efficient rapid distribution. Right now this central location is the most effective method as we continually adjust to the shifting conditions. Uniformed NYPD Community Affairs officers in marked vehicles will be present in the parking lot to accept these much needed donations. Any questions can be directed to the Community Affairs Bureau at 646-610-5323 or via email at

When: Immediately
Where: Resort World Casino (Former Aqueduct Racetrack), 110-00 Rockaway Boulevard
How Much: You Are Free to Donate Any of the Above

Superstorm Sandy Support for Businesses
New York City Business Solutions has put together a package of support for NYC businesses impacted by the storm. The package items include:

  • Emergency loans of up to $10,000 for small and mid-sized businesses that have been interrupted as a result of the storm.
  • For larger businesses that were damaged, temporary City and State sales tax deferment on materials needed for rebuilding.
  • For businesses displaced from their locations, we’re offering temporary office space free of charge at the Brooklyn Army Terminal for the next 30 days.
  • EDC has about 40,000 square feet of space at the Terminal that is now available for this use.
  • Loans up to $2 million are also available for business property losses not fully covered by insurance – and for businesses that have had cash flow problems caused by the storm and need funds to get back on their feet.

The package applies to small businesses, agricultural co-ops, and most nonprofits, regardless of size. For additional information contact NYC Business Solutions by calling 311 or going to

Peace of Heart Choir: Songs of Joy and Healing in the Languages of the World
This singing collective of community members came together in response to the World Trade Center tragedy to promote healing, diversity, community bonding, and mutual understanding through music. Enjoy this concert of holiday and folk songs, original compositions, and more, sung in a variety of languages, including English, Spanish, Russian, Hebrew, and Zulu.

When: Saturday, December 1st – 3:00 pm
Where: Queens Library, Central Branch, 89-11 Merrick Boulevard (between Jamaica and Hillside Avenues)
How Much: Free