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Only One FEMA Center Remains Open on Staten Island

By Nicholas Rizzi | January 5, 2013 11:35am

STATEN ISLAND — FEMA has closed down all but one of the disaster recovery centers on Staten Island, saying demand for services has dropped as the borough recovers from Hurricane Sandy.

The last remaining center is at a Kia car dealership on Hylan Boulevard in Grant City, after FEMA shut down the New Dorp Beach center on Miller Field last month.

A FEMA spokesman said the agency closed down centers based on dwindling numbers of residents who visited the sites to speak with a FEMA representative face-to-face. 

“Typically, we close recovery centers when visits slow down,” said Ed Conely, a spokesman for FEMA. “We don’t do it in a vacuum. We work with locals and the state.”

The Miller Field location was seeing about 30 people a day, compared to the 90 people a day who have been visiting the Hylan Boulevard location, Conely said.

However, some complained that the Dec. 21 closure of the Miller Field FEMA center created a hardship for area residents who had relied on the bathrooms and showers there.

Leatrice Bard Tolls, a volunteer with Occupy Sandy at Cedar Grove Avenue, said many residents are still without power or hot water, and the showers at the center were helpful for them.

“They still need showers when they're working on their houses and getting out the mold, just to clean off,” Tolls said. “If they're staying in their house, a shower's a good idea, and now there's nothing like that available to them.”

FEMA opened six recovery centers across Staten Island in November and has gradually closed all but the Hylan Boulevard site. The agency currently has 22 centers open in New York State and recently opened new centers in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Conely said FEMA plans to keep the Grant City location open.

“Obviously we want to maintain a presence on Staten Island,” he said.