Last Hurricane Sandy Evacuees Leave Brooklyn Tech High School Shelter

By Jesse Lent and Julie Shapiro  on November 13, 2012 10:35pm

FORT GREENE — The hundreds of Hurricane Sandy evacuees who have been staying at Brooklyn Technical High School will be gone by Wednesday morning, officials announced.

For the past two weeks, the Fort Greene high school has housed more than 200 adults from Chai Home and Surf Manor, assisted living facilities in the Rockaways that flooded during the storm, the school said.

Parents and teachers at Brooklyn Tech have raised concerns about students sharing space with the evacuees, and they were relieved to hear at a meeting Tuesday night that the shelter residents were being moved out starting at 4 p.m. that afternoon.

However, parents were alarmed that the Department of Education planned to quickly clean the seventh and eighth floors of the school, where the evacuees were staying, and allow students back into that space, which includes the cafeteria, on Wednesday morning.

"It's not good when people that need medical attention were in the cafeteria to say, 'We'll clean today and you'll use the cafeteria tomorrow,'" said Magdalena Malaj, 39, a chemist from The Bronx who has a son in ninth grade.

"It is totally unacceptable," she added.

Elizabeth Johnson, the school's United Federation of Teachers chapter leader, added that the shelter residents had medical problems including open sores, and said she, too, was concerned with the cleanliness of the cafeteria.

"It would be reassuring to all of us if someone could come from the DOE and inspect the cafeteria before you open it up to 5,400 students and staff," Johnson said.

A DOE spokesman said the city would thoroughly inspect the seventh and eighth floors, even if that meant delaying opening them to students.

In addition to Brooklyn Tech, several other high schools were also housing hurricane evacuees, but all of those shelters have closed, the DOE said.

It was not immediately clear whether the evacuees at Brooklyn Tech would be able to return home or whether they were going to another facility.

Many parents came to Tuesday night's meeting geared up to speak out against the shelter, which has been operating alongside the school since Brooklyn Tech reopened to students last week.

"It's a big inconvenience for the kids," said Shirley Yung, 47, whose son is in 11th grade. "[The city doesn't] really have a choice, but it's frustrating."

Some parents, including Delma Rochester, 46, whose daughter is a senior, said they understood the need to make sacrifices in the wake of the storm.

"We all have to chip in in times like this," Rochester said.

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