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BronxWorks and Super Storm Sandy

Dedication, stamina, and grace personified

We hope all of our friends and supporters are well following Hurricane Sandy. There are many of our NYC and tri-state neighbors who are hurting deeply now and like you, we are all thinking of them in this time of recovery.

At BronxWorks, every single person we serve is special to us. But in times of natural disaster and overwhelming stress, there is a group of people who are particularly vulnerable and often overlooked: homeless individuals and families.

What you may not know is that BronxWorks’ homeless services are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, no matter what, including every holiday, or 30 degrees below or 110 degrees in the shade. As Sandy bore down on the city, the dedicated case managers, security, and maintenance staff who work in our homeless programs got everyone through this crisis, working extra shifts with little opportunity to rest. When public transportation shut down, quick thinking, long walks, and carpooling got everyone where they needed to be: with our clients.

Our Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) is responsible for canvassing the entire borough throughout the year. In preparation for Sandy, all our vehicles were gassed up, staff reached out to every one of our clients on the street, and they checked locations around the shoreline. On Monday and Tuesday – at the height of Sandy’s arrival and landing – HOT staff braved the harsh conditions, looking for clients they had not yet contacted and checking homeless encampments. Throughout all this activity, HOT staff continued to manage the medications of homeless clients who need daily medication.

Our homeless drop-in center known as the Living Room was filled to capacity as it kept taking in anyone needing shelter, including one person who wasn’t homeless but found himself stranded. HOT staff and the NYPD continued to bring in homeless individuals they found on the streets and in the subway stations. Extra food was purchased to feed everyone, and thankfully the facility never lost power or had any issues with the building. Despite the overcrowding, our guests showed camaraderie and helped each other through the ordeal – true New Yorkers in the face of crisis!

At BronxWorks’ three homeless family residences (which house a total of 276 families), residents were counseled in advance about how to prepare for the hurricane. Despite the difficulty of traveling during the storm, our shelters were always fully staffed and operations were uninterrupted.

We partner with Common Ground at The Brook, a supportive housing facility where BronxWorks provides social services to the residents with special needs. Many of the residents require medication monitoring and other assistance daily, regardless of extreme weather. Our staff were always on hand to make sure our medically vulnerable clients had the supplies and food they needed to get through the storm.

We thank all our colleagues at these programs for putting clients first and demonstrating such stamina and grace during very difficult times.

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