LOWER EAST SIDE — Two public housing developments on the Lower East Side have begun packing and handing out thousands of "go bag" backpacks to give residents the tools they would need in future storms like Hurricane Sandy.
In the next few weeks, Vladeck and Smith houses will give out a total of 3,705 backpacks — enough for every apartment in each complex to get one. The backpacks contain emergency gear such as a hand-crank radio that doubles as a phone charger, light sticks and a first-aid kit.
"I want to ensure that my residents are properly prepared in case they need to evacuate again," said Nancy Ortiz, the tenant association president of Vladeck Houses, at Madison and Gouverneur streets.
Ortiz came up with the "go bag" idea not long after the October 2012 storm left parts Lower Manhattan without power and heat for days. She is giving the bag for free to all members of the complex's tenant association, which costs $3 per year to join.
"I researched based on the demographic of my residents and my budget and came up with the things we would need," said Ortiz, who has also completed CERT — Community Emergency Response Team — training.
About $7,800 in tenant participation funds was used to assemble 1,773 bags for the Vladeck Houses, she said.
Aixa Torres, the tenant association president at Smith Houses, located between the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges, said she is currently packing "go bags" as well and plans to hand them out to the 1,932 units in her complex in the coming weeks.
Each kit contains:
A crank radio that also doubles as a phone charger
3 boxes of water with a 5-year shelf life
1 food bar with a 5-year shelf life
1 hand sanitizer
1 Mylar sleeping blanket
1 12-hour glow stick
1 first-aid kit