University houses FEMA’s Sandy relief efforts

The university from Nov. 12 to 16 housed the Federal Emergency Management Agency while the agency continued its on-going Sandy relief operations.

Open from 10am to 7pm, the FEMA university mobile station was set up in the reading room, a wing of the student union, while volunteers worked to help those who had been forced out of their homes or whose homes were damaged, by finding them temporary housing and helping those unable to get food.

The agency is evaluating extending their stay, depending on the demand: Weeks after New York City suffered immense power outages, fires, and an enormous amount of destruction, many are still reeling from the storm. FEMA and many other government and non-profit organizations have been working toward helping those displaced by the storm.

“Today was one of our busiest days with 15-20 people and depending on need we may stay longer” said Shandra Antonelli, who works for the TSA, who is also providing assistance in the mobile station.

Typically weekdays after 5pm, when many get off of work, the mobile center saw a rise in the number from those seeking assistance from FEMA. The university mobile station is one of many across Manhattan and the city providing to those in need.

For students looking to help, “Simply spreading the word and informing those looking for help or volunteering at the other stations would help” said Antonelli.

The area around the university, which was initially shut down, has returned to normal operations. Others affected by the storm in Staten Island, Red Hook and Far Rockaway (which still has no subway service) have not been so lucky.

As FEMA and the university try to do their part, students are encouraged to volunteer at other locations, and spread the word about FEMA’s presence at the university.

“One of the problems the mobile center has been having is students are unaware and those seeking help are having some difficulties finding where in the building FEMA is located,” said Antonelli. “The other mobile centers typically have larger banners that are easy to find and see.”