Canarsie residents struggling after Sandy left off federal food stamp list

Posted at 11:22 PM, Jan 15, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-15 23:23:16-05

Charles East’s basement in Carnarsie Brooklyn is all cleaned up and dry now.

But recovering from Hurricane Sandy did not come without a cost.

East told Pix11, “I got a lot of credit from Home Depot. My bills are about this high right now.”

That means even in this solidly middle class neighborhood of Carnarsie, Brooklyn seemingly simple tasks – like putting food on the table – can be a real challenge.

East says he isn’t too proud to ask for help, but recently received an unpleasant surprise when he tried to apply for food stamps available through a federally funded disaster relief program.

Money that would have been there for food evaporated when his insurance company refused to cover much of the damage, East said.  “I sustained about 30 thousand dollars in losses.”

East and every resident in the zip code got the same answer — the city’s Human Resources Administration failed to include Carnarsie on the list of neighborhood eligible for federal food stamp assistance.DiscoveryCenter

Councilman Lewis Fidler just filed a lawsuit against the city to get Carnarsie added to that list.

“When you make a decision to deliberately not give people that were hurt by the hurricane the same benefits to people who were hit by the hurricane – that’s wrong. I represent a community that was devastated by the hurricane. You don’t see them on a  news a lot. But Carnarsie had a water surge on both sides of the neighborhood”, Councilman Fidler told PIX11.

Fidler says thought adding Carnarsie to the list of a dozen other neighborhoods would be a no-brainer, especially since FEMA deemed it appropriate to open up a disaster relief center in this very same neighborhood.

Councilman Fidler said he believes the city left Carnarsie off that list because of, “Ignorance, naiveté…many agencies have responded to Carnarsie. Rapid response is there today!”

Citing the lawsuit, an HRA spokesman would not go into specifics about why Carnarsie was left off the emergency aid list, but tells Pix11 the criteria used to identify eligible neighborhoods includes:

– a storm surge that caused flooding and substantial property damage

– substantial and extended power outages

– and a concentration of city public housing developments that lost power, heat or hot water for substantial time periods after the storm

The spokesperson continued, “In concert with our state and federal partners, we administered a program that met the needs of those most impacted by the storm.  We will contest any litigation on the matter.”

Meantime, Charles East says he’s still relying on the generosity of family and friends to feed his family.

“A lot of people – including myself…have been adversely affected by hurricane sandy and the disaster”, said East.