NEW YORK CITY (CN) - With city and federal agencies overwhelmed by Sandy, public housing residents in the "Zone A" evacuation area in Queens and Brooklyn sought aid from grassroots relief workers Wednesday.
Occupy Sandy, an offshoot of Occupy Wall Street, teamed up with community groups and the nationwide environmental group 350.org to help residents of northern Queens and southwest Brooklyn.
Workers said the city has given Zone A short shrift in its massive effort to restore transportation and energy and remove downed trees.
Con Edison promised hundreds of thousands of Manhattan and Brooklyn residents in areas with underground wires that energy would be restored within three days, but warned that areas served by above-ground cables would be without power for at least a week.
That means many residents of Brooklyn's Red Hook neighborhood will be in the dark, with no heat, well into November.
The temperature dipped to 48 degrees Wednesday, but it felt colder, with winds whipping from the surrounding Upper New York Bay.
In Red Hook's gentrifying Northside, families of trick-or-treaters wandered down Columbia Street, where rows of houses surrounded independent bookshops, restaurants and bars. The bike lane connecting the neighborhood to the wealthy Dumbo neighborhood has been swept clean, and was filled with bike riders Wednesday afternoon.
The picture changed south of the overpass, where the toll road to Brooklyn Battery Tunnel divides the neighborhood. A few blocks down, dozens of people lined up around the community group Red Hook Initiative, waiting for hot meals, candles, child and senior care and other goods and services.
At the door of 767 Hicks St., volunteers handed out intake forms stating that free meals would be served and noon and 6 p.m., and asking what people needed and how they could be contacted. The form directed people to check off boxes if they needed cleanup, batteries, flashlights, matches, food, water, child care, elder care, transportation or medicine.
Lashawn Sowell, a 41-year-old resident of Red Hook East Houses around the corner, said she found out about the project from a neighbor in her building.
She said the New York City Housing Authority, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Con Edison have not shown up for three days, though elderly people have been stuck in their homes without elevator access, hot water or lights.
"Two housing workers came into the building this morning to see if there was any damage done to the apartment. Not to question how are the tenants doing, but is there any damage to your apartment that housing needs to know about," she said.
She said the workers would not talk about the Housing Department's response because they hope to shift the liability to Con Edison.
"Where's all these people to help all these people in the community who were in a Zone A evacuation area?" she asked.
"Why does the community have to do all the work when FEMA is out there? We can support each other, yes, but how long is that going to happen?"
An older woman chimed in, "Ain't nobody talking about Red Hook," on TV news.
The woman, an employee of Intercruises, said her cruise ship, the Queen Mary, berthed at Brooklyn's Pier 12, was diverted last weekend because of the storm.