Hurricane Sandy Evacuees Leave Park Slope Armory YMCA

By Leslie Albrecht on November 19, 2012 9:14pm 

PARK SLOPE — The Hurricane Sandy evacuees that were staying at the Park Slope Armory YMCA have moved out of the building and it will reopen soon to YMCA members — but officials don't know exactly when.

The last of the evacuees — many of whom were elderly people from senior homes in the Rockaways damaged in the storm — left on Sunday, according to City Councilman Brad Lander. One group moved back into an adult care facility, and two other groups will stay in "transitional housing" at other assisted living facilities while their buildings are repaired, Lander said in an email.

The Armory, which usually houses a YMCA branch complete with an indoor running track and spinning and yoga classes, will reopen "as soon as possible" to its members, a spokeswoman said, but she declined to speculate on an exact date.

"The city is still moving out, and demobilizing equipment and supplies," YMCA spokeswoman Megan King said in an email. "After that we will be thoroughly cleaning and sanitizing the space. We are working hard to get the facility back open as soon as possible for the community."

The cavernous armory, on 15th Street and Eighth Avenue, started taking in evacuees on the night of Oct. 28 as the city prepared for the hurricane. Over the next several weeks hundreds of volunteers put in time at the shelter, which housed many evacuees with special medical needs.

Some volunteers organized activities at the shelter such as arts and crafts and fitness classes. One volunteer helped evacuees register to vote so they wouldn't miss participating in the Nov. 6 election. Cast members from Broadway shows even came to entertain the shelter guests, Lander said in a Nov. 7 Twitter post.

An evacuee from the Belle Harbor Manor nursing home in Far Rockaway praised her experience at the shelter in an essay for the New York Times.

"At the Armory we are greeted with courtesy, gentleness and goodness beyond description," wrote Miriam Eisenstein-Drachler. "A new level of selflessness, combined with a very high level of care, has opened up to us."

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