By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Gerritsen Beach is getting some much-needed post-Sandy attention from the federal government.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has opened a Mobile Disaster Recovery Center in the community to help residents whose homes were heavily damaged pick up the pieces of their lives.
The center, which will help homeowners with damaged property to register for assistance, will also help refer residents to resources for disaster needs, according to U.S. Rep. Bob Turner (R-Brooklyn-Queens), who recently paid a visit to the site.
The Mobile Disaster Recovery Center is located at the Garrison Little League fields, on Gerritsen Avenue between Seba and Cyrus avenues. The center is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.
“My staff and I have been throughout the district in Brooklyn since the storm, and I have spoken to federal, state, and local officials about the continued needs of Gerritsen Beach and Brooklyn as a whole. This Mobile Disaster Recovery Center is a positive step in the right direction to assist local residents in getting the aid they need and deserve from the federal government," Turner said.
FEMA community relations personnel have been going door-to-door in the community, delivering information encouraging residents with damaged property to register for assistance.
Individuals do not have to go to a disaster recovery center to register with FEMA. They can apply for FEMA assistance by calling the toll-free registration number at 1-800-621-FEMA. The line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Residents can also register online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov.
In another development, state Sen. Marty Golden (R-Bay Ridge-southern Brooklyn) is wondering why Gerritsen Beach wasn’t classified as a mandatory evacuation zone by the city prior to Hurricane Sandy.
Gerritsen Beach was considered a Zone B, meaning that evacuation was not mandatory. As a result, Golden said, many residents chose to stay in their homes and ride out the superstorm, puting their lives in danger.
Golden is requesting that Office of Emergency Management Commissioner Joseph Bruno take a second look at the designation and reclassify Gerritsen Beach as a Zone A for evacuation declarations.
“Gerritsen Beach suffered severe flooding as a result of an unusual high tide during Hurricane Sandy with almost all homes being affected. In fact, some homes were flooded at the first floor and numerous rescues had to be undertaken by first responders, and sadly a death did occur,” Golden said.
“Frankly if not for the heroic efforts of the city’s emergency responders and the Gerritsen Beach Volunteer Fire and Ambulance Corps, more lives may very well have been lost,” Golden said.