The Next Storm That Hits

March 1, 2013



Image courtesy of New York Cares/Facebook

“We have this winter to do it right, but time is running out. Once the spring comes, the mold is going to be the next storm that hits us.”

Those are the words of Kelly Mead from Gerritsen Beach, a Brooklyn community with a small town feel on the shores of Plum Beach Channel, fed by the Atlantic Ocean and Jamaica Bay. Needless to say, Gerritsen Beach was inundated by Superstorm Sandy. Water penetrated nearly all of its 2,000 homes. Flood waters reached a record 10-12ft in some parts of the neighborhood.

Yet today, you might not even be able to tell.

“Gerritsen Beach worked really hard to clean up, do the demolition, and get the debris out of here so that it looks normal,” Mead adds. “It looks okay from the outside, but it’s so far from okay on the inside.”

Gerritsen Beach during Sandy; Gerritsen Beach today; mold growth inside a local home

Mold is growing in Gerritsen Beach, and likewise throughout Coastal Brooklyn. If we don’t act, it’s poised to be one of the most extensive health threats that our borough has ever seen.

This week, to address what has emerged as a huge post-Sandy challenge, the Brooklyn Recovery Fund is sending $1.3 million to communities in need for mold removal and remediation, as well as structural repairs and rebuilding of homes and small businesses.

Seven Community Rebuilding Grants have been awarded to nonprofit organizations with a history of effective housing and community development activity in Brooklyn, to work in partnership with local service providers and nonprofits in Red Hook, Coney Island, Canarsie, Gerritsen Beach, and Sheepshead Bay to take on mold and urgent physical rehabilitation needs.

Once buildings are free of mold, reconstruction can begin in earnest. It’s an opportunity for local job creation and putting new structures in place to protect against future storms. Funds are also providing re-grants and forgivable loans for work not covered by insurance. Hundreds of Brooklyn buildings will benefit.


#ConeyRecovers Coney Corps job training with Turner Construction;
Rebuilding Together NYC outreach in Gerritsen Beach

Community Rebuilding Grant project details are available here.

  • Gerritsen Beach: $200,000 to Gerritsen Beach Cares in partnership with NY Cares, and $200,000 to Rebuilding Together NYC in partnership with Gerritsen Beach Cares and the Gerritsen Beach Volunteer Fire Department;
  • Coney Island: $200,000 to the Alliance for Coney Island-led #ConeyRecovers Coalition in partnership with St. Bernard's Project, Turner Construction, and Astella Development Corporation;
  • Red Hook: $225,000 to Fifth Avenue Committee in partnership with the Red Hook Coalition, Red Hook Volunteers, and Rebuilding Together and $120,000 Carroll Gardens Association;
  • Canarsie: $200,000 to Neighborhood Housing Services of East Flatbush’s Canarsie Emergency Repairs Assistance, in partnership with the Canarsie Recovery Coalition;
  • Sheepshead Bay: $200,000 to Asians American For Equality (AAFE) Community Development Fund  for the Sheepshead Bay Sandy-Impacted Homeowner and Small Business Recovery Initiative in partnership with Kings Bay Y and Turkish Cultural Council of Brooklyn.

These grants bring our total deployed funds to nearly $2 million; we’ve collected an astounding $2.3 million in donations, and will continue to ensure that 100% of your contributions address recovery right here in Brooklyn.

In addition, we’re working closely with these groups to connect them with city and federal agencies, volunteers, and each other to access resources, best practices, and ensure the success of their work. And we’re partnering with other foundations and agencies like LISC NYC to coordinate funding efforts and maximize the overall impact of recovery investment.

“From Day 1, our strategy has been to target funds to the organizations working most effectively and collaboratively in Brooklyn’s hardest hit communities,” said Brooklyn Community Foundation President Marilyn Gelber. “As we shift from ‘rescue’ to recovery and rebuilding, the Brooklyn Recovery Fund continues to partner with these deeply knowledgeable and capable groups to ensure that residents, businesses, and institutions are fully supported, and that our communities not just ‘bounce back’—they bounce forward. Our efforts will continue as long as they are needed.” 

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N.Y Funders Learn How To Adapt From “Sandy”
Earlier this week, BCF President Marilyn Gelber spoke at the Better Business Bureau's Charity Effectiveness Symposium, “Lessons from Sandy: What Funders and Grantees Are Learning.” Speaking alongside representatives from the Robin Hood Foundation and the Long Island Community Foundation, she shared that the lessons learned during Sandy could benefit all communities, with emphasis on increasing communication and strengthening local networks. "While this was a test of who you are and your ability to react and connect on a local level, the legacy will be for foundations throughout Brooklyn to be more engaged with neighborhoods.” Read The NonProfit Times story here.

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