Sixth Months Later

May 3, 2013

Above: “Heartwalk,” an installation designed by Brooklyn firm Situ Studio and made from salvaged Sandy-damaged boardwalk boards, was on view in DUMBO through April 30th (image courtesy of DUMBO BID)

This week marks an inauspicious anniversary: six months since Superstorm Sandy. While many Brooklyn residents have put the storm out of their daily thoughts, thousands are still steeped in what no doubt feels like a sluggish recovery. These past months have brought them a range of frustrations and road blocks, which underscore the storm’s record size and strength, and our collective unpreparedness.

But for all of us, survivors and unscathed, we want nothing more than a return to normal—for our neighbors to be back in their homes, our local businesses to reopen, and our coasts to feel stronger and more secure. And for devastation like this to never happen again.

Last Friday, we attended the annual meeting of Philanthropy New York (the regional association of New York-area grantmakers) to hear from fellow leaders in citywide recovery and share our experiences and lessons learned in effectively rebuilding our communities and improving resistance against future storms. 

As part of the keynote panel, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan (a former Brooklynite) spoke alongside New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth Pinksy and New York State Director of Operations Howard Glaser to discuss community resiliency.

Above: MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry moderates the keynote panel at Philanthropy NY's annual meeting.

"This is actually the worst moment right now. This is a very tough time for folks that are affected. It’s going to get better,” acknowledged Glaser, speaking to homeowners’ frustration.

“The easy problems to solve have been solved,” added Pinsky. "Now the people whose problems are longer term are realizing that, in fact, the solution is going to take time."

As local homeowners and businesses await the distribution of federal funds, many have already started getting critical help from the Brooklyn Recovery Fund to address these complicated problems.

Our grants to Rebuilding Together and Heart 9/11 in Gerritsen Beach, #ConeyRecovers in Coney Island, Fifth Avenue Committee and Carroll Gardens Association in Red Hook, Neighborhood Housing Services of East Flatbush in Canarsie, and Asian Americans for Equality and the Kings Bay Y in Sheepshead Bay are removing mold-covered walls, putting down new floors, replacing boilers, repairing sink holes, and much more.

This activity, months ahead of greatly debated government funds, is due to the unguarded generosity of our community and the dedicated coordination of local nonprofits.

Above: Todd Bilgore of Gerritsen Beach in the first floor of his home. With support from the Brooklyn Recovery Fund, Heart 9/11 is helping his family rebuild.

Over the next sixth months, as more resources flow to our neighbors through the Brooklyn Recovery Fund and government, we will continue our commitment to seeing that these funds reach throughout our communities and have the greatest possible lasting impact.

While the Recovery Fund’s money will be dwarfed by the billions coming from Washington, we know that our commitment to neighborhood recovery is serving a critical role.

As Secretary Donovan stated last Friday, “Philanthropy should focus on building communities.” And that’s just what we are here to do.

The Recovery Continues: In the coming weeks, we will publish our six month Brooklyn Recovery Fund report to the community and debut a video sharing the stories of Brooklynites who have been helped by our borough’s response to the storm. Stay tuned to

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For Mom: A Gift that Gives Back to Brooklyn
Show mom how much you love her with a charitable gift that helps your hometown flourish. From now until May 8th, when you make a contribution in honor of mom, we will send her a special note with a personalized message from you just in time for Mother’s Day! Donate $50 or more and we will also send her our “Do Good Right Here” farmer’s market tote and a limited edition chocolate bar from Brooklyn’s own JoMart Chocolates. Make your gift online here.

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