Nov 01, 2012 | Post by: valghent 22 Comments

NYC’s Westbeth Artists Housing Severely Damaged by Hurricane Sandy

SEE BELOW for Nov 12 WESTBETH UPDATE

Westbeth Artists Housing, my home in the West Village of New York City, has been severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Nine feet of water flooded the Westbeth basement, destroying the boiler, oil tank, pumps and electrical equipment. Music studios, musical instruments, sculpture studios, metal-working and wood-working studios in the basement are literally gone. Some artists have lost a lifetime of work. Currently there is 5′ of water standing in the basement.

All performances and exhibitions, including the Westbeth Gallery, Martha Graham Dance, Brecht Forum, are canceled until further notice.

There is no power, water, heat in the entire building. No elevators. Tenants are using candles and flashlights to navigate the pitch black stairwells and hallways. Neighbors are checking on one another, going from apartment to apartment, paying close attention to the elderly and disabled tenants.

Oil and gas fumes are apparent throughout the building, from the gas and oil from flooded cars on surrounding streets and the damaged oil tank in the basement. It is likely that even after power is restored to the neighborhood Westbeth will remain without power as the transformers in the basement were also flooded.

My husband and I are in the South of France awaiting a new return flight to NYC as our previous flights were canceled. Since we have power and internet access here I am doing what I can to spread the news of the situation in Westbeth. Special thanks to George Cominskie (who is working hard in Ohio to get out the vote leading up to the election) for posting the most recent update on Facebook and to Deb Travis, who is on the ground in Westbeth, as well as all the volunteers in Westbeth helping out.

We forsee a long rebuilding ahead. I am already thinking about producing benefit concert(s) in the near future. We will need your support in the coming restoration.

As news unfolds and ways to assist are clarified, we will update both here and on the Westbeth website: westbeth.org, via email (you can join list below left) and on my Facebook and Twitter.

I hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy, and my deepest condolences to families who lost a loved one in this most recent disaster.

with love,

Valerie

Westbeth Update
Monday AM November 12, 2012

- All basic services (heat, hot water, electric) have been restored to all apartments. If you don’t have any of these services, report it to management at once so they can rectify the situation.

- Two elevators (one in A section, one in H) should come online “within a few days.” Best case is probably Tuesday or Wednesday, worst case, Thursday or Friday.

- Drying area for damaged work has been established in the inner courtyard and outside the community room. Only artists with damaged art are permitted in these areas.

- Two outside security guards have been hired to patrol the building during this difficult period.

- Two generators have been placed in the courtyard. They will supply power to the many fans and dehumidifiers in the basement. They will be running 24/7 until the situation is rectified.

- Trash/garbage should be taken down to the dumpster in the inner courtyard parking area. Within a few days, plastic bags will be placed in the compacter areas for you to place your plastic and bottle recycling. You are asked to hold on to your paper recycling a bit longer until a solution is found.

- Land line phone service is still spotty. No matter who your carrier is (Verizon, Time Warner, Fios), if you do not have phone service, you need to call your carrier and report that your land line is out of service. If you don’t have a cell phone, borrow one from a neighbor to make that call. As Val Ghent reported in her updates, you should report your lack of service to your carrier and you should request a credit for all the days you had no phone service.

- For those of you with spaces in the basement, Wednesday night is the deadline to get your items out of the basement. Come Thursday morning, Service Pro will begin to indiscriminately remove and trash items in the basement.

- Precautions should be taken to protect yourself from health issues related to mold. An informational piece from the EPA concerning mold is being distributed to every apartment.

- There are still some outages in some hallways and stairwells. It is hoped they will be corrected in the next few days. If you are traveling in or near A section hallways or stairwells, you may still need a flashlight.

- The process of beginning to restore service in the I building will begin on Tuesday.

- Speaker Quinn and Congressman Nadler will again have staff on site tomorrow (Tuesday, Nov 13) at 1 PM in the community room to assist people with their FEMA registrations.

- As of token of our appreciation to the staff for their efforts during this difficult time, WARC will sponsor a Thanksgiving luncheon for the staff next week.

- There is no building meeting for a few days. The next scheduled meeting is Thursday at 3pm.

Westbeth Update
Sunday AM November 11, 2012

- Basic services – electric, hot water and heat – should be returned to all apartments now

- If you don’t have electric, notify the front desk at once. I have not heard of anyone who is without electric in their apartment. If you don’t have hot water, run the water for a few minutes. If you don’t have heat, it probably means your radiator needs to be bled. Do a work order for maintenance to bleed your radiator.

- As of last evening, some hallways in A, B & C (close to A) still don’t have hallway lighting. You should still carry a flashlight for walking those areas or for any stairwell in the A section.

- From the Westbeth Corp FB page concerning the above services
“Some of the systems have temporary solutions; there are some parts we’re praying hold out until we get permanent replacements and some solutions to the immediate problem will be changed to permanent solution in the coming days. However, as things stand now, every resident should be warm and every resident should have electricity. There may be a few power outages in individual apartments, but the operative word is temporary as lines dry out and fuses are replaced. Radiators should be giving off more than adequate heat for current conditions.”

- There is currently no elevator service but they hope to have one car in the A section and one in the H section running within a few days, maybe sooner if they are lucky.

- Phone service is spotty. No one with Verizon appears to have service. Some Fios and Time Warner customers are reporting service, while others with those same companies are reporting no service. You will have to call your individual carrier to report your service is out.

- We will be without a laundry room for at least 2 months, so you will have to make other arrangements concerning laundry service. A list of laundromats in the neighborhood will be available at today’s meeting and posted on the mail room bulletin boards.

- Concerning cleanup in the basement, this from the Westbeth Corp FB page:

“The potential health hazard is growing daily as the warm weather, which we otherwise are happy to have, encourages the growth of mold and bacteria throughout the basement. It has become more and more imperative that all materials come out of the basement as quickly as humanly possible. As of today, we are allowing all tenants to go into the basement without a staff member accompanying them. Items no longer wanted can be left out for Servpro, the cleanup company, to remove. By early next week, the Phase 1 area, roughly the southeast quadrant of the basement, will be barricaded off and the dehumidifiers, fans and heaters will start to do their work. The moment Westbeth and Servpro will have to take over the cleanup for those spaces is fast approaching, and we are encouraging those tenants especially to rescue what they can immediately.”

- There will be a building meeting at 3 PM today.

Westbeth Update
Saturday AM November 10, 2012

Wonderful developments overnight.

- Heat and hot water are available throughout the building although apartments throughout different sections are reporting no heat. If you do not have heat by noon today, do a work order for your apartment. It probably means the issue is related to your radiators and not to the building wide distribution system.

- Electric expanded to about half of those who were still without power. It is hoped that the last units without power will come on line today.

- The report on elevators is from the Westbeth Corp FB page:
“Progress is being made on the elevators. We have expanded our goal and hope to have a car in the Bethune Street lobby running at about the same time the freight elevator on the West Street side is done. We hope this will be within several days, and given that there are two full repair crews working we think that is more likely than not.”

- Yesterday, Congressman Nadler and Speaker Quinn had staff in the community room with computers, helping residents register with FEMA for assistance. They will be returning on Tuesday at 1 PM to register more people. A few points on this:

- You can do it yourself on line or by phone. Specific instructions of what you need are on the front desk and will be available at today’s 3 PM community room meeting.
- Many artists will be declared ineligible for assistance and will then be referred to the Small Business Administration (SBA). However, you must first register with FEMA and get a registration number from them before you can go to SBA.
- This service is especially geared for those without computer, internet or phone access. All are welcome but we hope that you will give preference to those who have no other option but this service.

- Speaker Quinn has negotiated an arrangement with Manhattan Mini Storage. Artists who need to find temporary storage for their work can get a small unit at Manhattan Mini Storage for two months for free. Call Elias Jaffe at 646.276.1617 to make those arrangements. You can also e-mail him at EliasJ@manhattanministorage.com This is for the temporary storage of art, not household goods.

This storm has brought out the best in so many people. It has also brought out the worst in a few people. Yesterday, an Ipod that was being recharged in the 7th floor A section was stolen. Last night, a large duffle bag of winter coats that were headed to recovery efforts in the Far Rockaways today, was stolen from the community room. I hope they were taken by mistake. Please return them to the front desk and just say you found them in the hallway.

Another building meeting today at 3 PM in the community room.

WESTBETH UPDATE
Friday November 09, 2012

Status quo from yesterday’ report.

Still running cold water throughout the building, no elevator service, no heat or hot water and no electric in the A section and some apartments in B & C near the A section.

Management reports that they are still on line to have electric restored to the whole building and some semblance of heat and hot water restored to the whole building by the end of this weekend.

Although there is some progress on elevators, the time line on their restoration is still a little open ended. We will probably not see any elevator service until the latter part of next week. Hope to have a more definitive report after today’s meeting.

Electric blankets have been distributed to those who have requested them and are home. We do not leave any at the front door. If you are generally not around, contact me to make a connection at another time.

If you can take your trash down to the dumpster in the inner courtyard parking area, please do so. If not, just leave it outside your door in a well –sealed bag.

We are trying to work out a salvage plan for art in the basement. Hope to have those plans finalized today.

FEMA
After today’s meeting in the community room at 3, Congressman Nadler and Speaker Quinn’s office are coordinating to have 5 of their staff members with lap tops and internet service on site so that residents can start to sign up with FEMA for disaster relief. There is not guarantee of what you would get but in order to get anything, you have to be registered with FEMA. We strongly urge you to do that registration.

We will also do a FEMA registration at 1 PM on Tuesday in the community room.

Much to do on the ground here. Will update you again tomorrow.

George Cominskie

WESTBETH UPDATE
Thursday Afternoon November 08, 2012

Back at Westbeth – Good to be home, sad to see the hardships many have endured.

Today’s update from Nancy Gabor, Erica Fae, Valerie Ghent and Westbeth Corp FB page

General Notes

- Running cold water throughout building

- No heat or hot water throughout building

- Still no electric in A section and parts of B & C near A section

- Sketchy reports on phone service – Verizon service is down and may be until December. Will follow up on that report. Some FIOS phone service people do have phone service.

- Do not use trash chutes. Leave trash outside your door in a well-sealed plastic bag.

- Electric blankets are being distributed to those who requested them. If you have a need, see me or Nancy at today’s meeting.

- Daily update meetings continue in Community Room at 3 PM.

More Specific Notes

- Management hopes to have heat and hot water up by end of weekend. No way to tell right now how efficient or effective it will be but it will be an improvement over the current situation.

- Elevators: Hope to be back on line within a week and even then, it may only be the Freight car in the A section that is operable at first.

- New transformers that will provide electric to the rest of the building should be in place and operable by end of the weekend. Will update you on progress in next report.

- Basement clean out work is continuing. No tenant can go to basement without first making arrangements with management. Studios in basement need to be cleaned out ASAP but all discussions on your work/possessions in the basement need to be taken up with management.

I am overwhelmed by the help and kindness of our Westbeth community and many strangers. Thank you all!

More tomorrow.
George Cominskie

WESTBETH UPDATE
7 November 2012

Reports today from Nancy Gabor, Speaker Quinn’s office and Westbeth Corp FB page

- We have cold running water. It is safe to drink although there may be some sentiment in it. Run the water for a minute or two and it will run clear.

- Hot water remains days away, heat even longer. Still trying to locate and obtain roll up boilers large enough to support the needs of our building.

- Electric has extended to even more apartments but A section and some B and C adjacent to the A section are still without power. It could still be days before those apartments get power.

- “Our elevator company has not been able to start their repairs because the shafts are not completely dry. We are hopeful that at least the freight car in the A section may be usable within a week, but that is only a guess.”

- “Basement tenants have been going to their spaces in organized groups with Westbeth staff, and will continue to do so. Shelly Staine is coordinating the access times. We do not yet have a plan of action for the Sculpture Studio, but hope to have one by tomorrow’s meeting.”

- “We have placed fire extinguishers on all floors. We have emphasized that in case of fire the first step is to make sure you are safe by leaving the premises and shutting the door. Then, call 911 if possible. Then, use the intercom to call the desk. Then, and only then, get a fire extinguisher. And only get a fire extinguisher if you know how to use it. You can actually hurt yourself badly if you’re not familiar with their operation, which will only complicate the response to the fire.”

- Plastic sheeting will be placed over elevators to help stop smell.

- Meeting in community room today at 3 PM

WESTBETH UPDATE
Monday AM November 05, 2012

The challenges continue for Westbeth but the kindness, generosity and hard work of Westbeth volunteers, staff, elected officials and friends has also been tremendous. Thank you all!

Now to specifics:
Our Polling Place for Tomorrow – Stays at Westbeth
There is still confusion on this matter if you look on line. On the BOE web site where you find your polling place, if you fill in our address it says you will vote at PS3 but that is as 11/4. The posting on their site at 12:36 this morning (11/5) shows that only 4 sites in Manhattan were moved and we are not one of them. Erica Fae got confirmation from the BOE that Westbeth will remain the polling site. Our elected officials have also gotten confirmation from the BOE that Westbeth will remain the polling site. If there is any change to this we will post it at once but for now, count on voting at Westbeth.

Reports below are gathered from Westbeth Corp FB page and WARC members Deb Travis, Erica Fae and Vicki Blankenship

-Electricity slowly coming back to residential apartments but portions of A section and B and C apartments close to the A section may not receive electric for several more days.

-The search for temporary boilers for heat and hot water continues. The large size of the building makes the search to find boilers that can accommodate the whole building harder.

-Elevator company and consultant will be in today to begin their assessment. As of today, it is likely that the C elevator (the freight car) will be the first one on line.

-Erica Fae is coordinating distribution of donated electric blankets and will be working through Oliva Duerr for their distribution. There is a supply of donated, used blankets in the community room for anyone to use.

-Directly from the Wesbeth Corp page

“At the end of the meeting we announced a plan for the basement cleanup. We escorted basement tenants in small groups to their spaces so they could see what they are up against, and also showed the sculpture studio users the terrible situation there. Starting Monday, we will alot blocks of times to tenants to begin work salvaging what they can from their spaces and the Sculpture Studio. They will have to sign waivers of liability, enter at their own risk, and be accompanied by a Westbeth staff member at all times. The need for speed is great: The basement needs to be cleared and cleaned as soon as possible before its smells become even worse and other health problems begin to arise. Westbeth anticipates beginning the cleanup of the public spaces and its own areas by midweek, although we don’t yet have an idea how long that will take.”

-There will be a building meeting today at 3 in the community room. There may not be a meeting on Tuesday since the community room will be the polling site. Future meetings may be moved to a later time to accommodate those who work outside the building.

-WARC is organizing floor captains among those who are still in the building to check on those still in residence.

-WARC will be posting brief updates at every elevator for those who can’t attend the meetings.

Love from Ohio,
George Cominskie

 

WESTBETH UPDATE
4 November, 2012

I have been in Ohio for over 12 days so all the reports I get come from people on the ground at Westbeth. I apologize if any information is misinterpreted or incorrect but I am filtering and reconfirming as much as I can.

Let me correct something from yesterday. Electric is on in most of the building but it is not on in the A section or in some apartments near the A section. They are working on it now but there is no definitive answer on when they will have electric.

Electric service does NOT automatically give us elevators, water or heat. Right now we only have electric in most of the building but none of the other three services.

From the Westbeth Corporate FB page:
The pump company came today and immediately saw, given the extent of the damage to the pumps, that onsite repair was not possible. They have taken them, along with the pumps for the hot water system, back to their shop, and hope to have some or all of them back in place by Tuesday or Wednesday. We also know that we can supply power to those pumps.

The contractor for the oil burners, the critical part of the boiler machinery, came to the building after 7 p.m. to survey the situation. His initial reaction was encouraging — the burners can quite likely be repaired and he will return when an electrician tells him it’s safe to begin taking them out of the boilers. His hope was that he would relatively quickly be able to get two of the burners working, which would allow us to provide hot water and, possibly, some heat, sooner than we expected.

The boiler work depends not only on the burners, but on the electrician (not the same one doing the restoration work;) and the plumber, who needs to ensure that the oil supply pipes are intact and that the system supplying water to and from the boilers is working. We expect both the electrician and plumber be at Westbeth on Sunday. We also are anticipating needing pumps for the fuel supply.

We are also hopeful that elevator service can be restored in a reasonable number of days. The equipment for them is on the roof, not in the basement, so it should mostly be intact. As of 9 p.m. this evening, (Saturday) there was still significant water in the pits at the bottom of the elevators in the Bethune Street lobby; work on them can’t begin until that’s taken care of. We received more pumps today, and with the restoration of electricity we hope to have that accomplished some time on Sunday. The A section elevators are more of mystery, and we might have a better handle on their condition by the end of tomorrow.

Let’s talk about some good news!

Erica Fae, our Community Relations Chair, has been in constant contact with the Board of Elections about Westbeth remaining a poll location. As of this morning, we are still listed as the poll location for our building. Once we have a definitive word on this we will post it.

Erica is also working to turn the Community Room into a warming center. More details on that will be posted in the community room. There is a daily update meeting held by management in the community room at 3PM. Attend if you can. WARC will be posting daily updates on each floor by the elevator bulletin boards on each floor but these will only be synopsis of what we know. If you have a question or concern that needs immediate attention, it is best to attend the 3 PM meeting and address it to management.

Yesterday, TJ Luty from God’s Love We Deliver, purchased and then helped distribute 20 electric blankets throughout the building with Erica and Maya. Thank you TJ and GLWD!

WARC is also trying to find a floor captain (or captains for the larger floors) to coordinate supply and relief efforts.

Congressman Nadler’s office dropped off 12 cases of bottled water and 140 MRE (Meals Ready to Eat) last night. You can check at the desk to see if any of those supplies are still available.

Maybe some of the best news – Very happy to report that Speaker Quinn’s office has put in a request to both HPD and to HUD for two emergency boilers so that we will have heat and hot water. I know her office is moving heaven and earth to get them on site ASAP. These will serve as a stop gap measure until our boilers are repaired.

We are also trying to get a water truck to supply water for your drinking and sanitary needs.

I know that nerves are wearing thin, that some tempers have flared and this is overwhelming for some. Please remember to be kind and patient. The staff is overburdened and has been stellar during this catastrophe. The WARC members and other volunteers are doing this even as they suffer under the same circumstances that you do.

I cannot get home soon enough to help with these relief efforts. However, I have a job to do here, so I will finish my assignment in Ohio and then come home to the place we all love, Westbeth.

Love from a now snowy Ohio,
George Cominskie

WESTBETH UPDATE
Saturday 3 November, 2012

My reports come from The Corporate Westbeth Page on FB, our elected officials, Lisa Rifkin and from Deb Travis who I can’t thank enough for keeping me updated and handling all the requests I have sent to her and then taking on another dozen tasks as well.

Good News – Electrical Power was restored at 4:30AM. Water service has not been restored yet.

I just tried to call the land line in my apartment but that service is not restored either.

From the Westbeth Corporate FB Page:
We have no news on the heating front. Our boiler contractor should have its personnel at Westbeth soon to begin the process of determining how much damage was sustained and what will be entailed in making the system operable again. It is most likely, however, that we are looking at a number of weeks before heat will be available.

Tenants and staff have detected the odorous consequences of Sandy. The smell is the result of the mixing of sea water, mud, debris, and all the various materials the basement held: Artists’ working materials; the contents of Westbeth’s maintenance shops, such as paints, solvents, petroleum products, and detergents; whatever else got loose from tenants’ rented spaces and the sculpture studio; the contents of the laundry room; and all the miscellaneous stuff a basement contains. Fortunately, we have not detected any sewer gas, which can be dangerous both to breath and because it is combustible. If you can smell the basement odor in your apartment, it is probably best to have a window and allow fresh air to enter your space. The basement under the best of circumstances is hard to ventilate in the best of times, and, as a consequence, some part of that smell is likely to linger for many weeks.

Reports that Deb has gathered:

Rent: since no rent stubs have been distributed and Phipps cannot handle receiving the checks, Matthew asks that we wait until next week to pay the rent.

Community Room: we are not reserving the community room until further notice. It is open from 10am to 8pm to charge devices. (Which might be irrelevant now)

Basement: no tenants are allowed in the basement. Once the electricity and basic services are restored, management will coordinate with affected residents for the inspection and removal of property.

Dumpster: if you have garbage that needs to be disposed of, please bring it to the dumpster in the inner courtyard garage area.

Food: please contact Olivia if you know anyone who is unable to leave their apartment for food. Meals on wheels is providing service in our area.

State of the basement: a few inches of water remain to be pumped. They will be using immersion pumps to get to some of the more difficult areas.

The council has labeled the doors of tenants we know have left in order to prevent worry. Please label your door if you leave and please label the door of anyone you know to have left.

From Lisa Rifkin:

Lisa called the Board of Elections and got this information.

Right now it is still expected that the community room will be the polling place on Tuesday, November 6th.

For those of you who have relocated and are not sure you will be able to get back on Nov 6th, you can go and cast an absentee ballot. Everything is very fluid there so we think you should call the BOE before you go there to be sure they are sticking with these dates and times.

Board of Elections
Operations temporarily relocated to:
450 West 33rd Street, 10Flr
New York, NY 10001
Tel: 1. 212.465.0503
Fax: 1. 212.465.2135

This might change when power is back. We don’t know if their service has been restored. As of yesterday, these were the times they were saying they would be open. I would reconfirm that before going. There is a possibility the location and times have changed.

Saturday, Nov 3rd 9AM to 6PM
Sunday, Nov 4th 9AM to 6PM
Monday Nov 5th 9AM to 5 PM

There have been many requests about our senior tenants and food and water. Olivia Duerr has coordinated food deliveries to all who are in need. Yesterday, both Congressman Nadler and Speaker Quinn’s offices delivered water and non-perishable food to the front desk. Some of those supplies are still down at the desk if anyone is in need.

Off to start the GOTV drive here in Ohio.

More tomorrow, when I hope everything is restored and these updates are not needed.

Love from Ohio,
George Cominskie

 

WESTBETH UPDATE
2 November, 2012

This post is a synopsis of items I gathered from reports from Deb Travis, from the offices of Congressman Nadler, Speaker Quinn and Senator Duane and from the Westbeth Corporate FB page.

1. There is generator operating in the community room from 10 AM to 8 PM so people can recharge their cell phones. Some of you who have been reaching out to me should
be able to reach your loved ones by cell in a day or two.

2. Port-a-sans are now on site and will be available from early morning to 10 PM.

3. Additional generators arrived yesterday and they will be used for lighting in the basement and to pump the water out of the basement.

4. ConEd says they will restore power to the building by 11 PM on Saturday night. However, Westbeth will need to check all of our electric mains, fuses and circuit breakers before electric service is restored to the building. Until everything is inspected, we won’t have a definitive answer to when services are restored. However, this is the timeline as they see it now:
- Westbeth could get power back as early as Sunday but more likely early next week
- Elevators and cold water will follow shortly thereafter
- Hot water later next week
- Heat and laundry may take as long as three to four weeks to be restored.

5. All of the above are guesstimates. Until everything is physically inspected, they will not know the full extent of the damage. Those inspections can begin today when the water is pumped out of the basement.

6. Some Westbeth residents who have gone to other places have asked me about voting. Our district leader, Brad Holyman is checking on where you can vote by absentee before Tuesday. I know Westbeth is trying to be the polling place as usual for Tuesday but I do not have a definitive answer if that has been determined yet.

Thanks again to our staff at Westbeth who continue to care for the residents, to the management for spearheading the restoration of services, to our elected officials who are constantly monitoring what is happening at Westbeth and providing assistance where they can and to the many Westbeth residents who are caring for each other.

With love from Ohio,
George Cominskie

WESTBETH UPDATE
1 November, 2012  AM

We hope to have a few generators in place today that will allow us to light the basement and run a few heaters in the Community Room. We continue to advise people that can to find alternative accommodation while the electricity is out; there will be no heat for several days, perhaps longer, and we don’t know when we’ll even have running water.

So, the recommendation from management is that you should seek other accommodations now if you can. If you relocate, please let the security guards know. If you let me know I will alert them as well. If you know some is definitely staying (many because they cannot go down the stairs) let me know so I can alert management as well. If you have a relative that you think should be taken to a shelter, call the Red Cross or one of these numbers that Cinitha sent me from the Governors’web site: If you need disaster assistance immediately, contact FEMA at 1-800-621-3362 or the NYS Hurricane Sandy Helpline at 1-888-769-7243.

I hear nothing but praise about our staff who have been assisting residents but their resources are limited with no services available. Thank you to all of our Westbeth heroes.

I will try to do another post tonight.

Love from Ohio,
George Cominskie

WESTBETH UPDATE
31 October 2012 10:30pm

1. The entire basement was filled with eight feet of water from West Street to Washington. Everything down there was damaged and may be destroyed.

2. The boiler was also buried in water. They will know officially when the electrician examines it, but some believe it is destroyed.

3. People have been getting water from the basement via the pumps to use for their toilets. It is completely contaminated and should NOT be used.

4. The oil tank, even though full, was lifted by the water and torn from its cement footings.

5. They are getting a generator for the community room so that people can charge their phones, etc and for voting. Will alert you when it is available.

6. Our transformer was under water and needs to dry, so we will likely not have power even after our neighbors do.

7. The water broke through the bricked up windows on the west street side and apparently a partition wall was damaged.

8. Malaparte has stuck a hose through their window and is letting us have water. Many thanks to them!

9. Again, if you leave to go elsewhere, please let someone know you have gone. Even better, put a sign on your door that says “evacuated” It will save the staff and other volunteers time when knocking on doors. We also don’t want to have to worry that someone is in there in distress.

10. I already know that 817D, 320C and 1111A have left. If anyone else reads this and has left, please let me know so I can update management.

This update would not be possible without Deb Travis on the ground at Westbeth. Thank you Deb.

I wish I was there to help you all.

With love from Ohio,
George Cominskie

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22 Comments to NYC’s Westbeth Artists Housing Severely Damaged by Hurricane Sandy

  1. Richenda Van Leeuwen
    November 1, 2012 1:44 pm

    We’ve been trying to reach our dear friend Beryl Bernay in A-710 without success since Sandy and are very worried because of her limited mobility. Please can you connect us to Deb Travis at Westbeth – want to hear she’s doing OK and that others are helping her out – we’re in DC and can help her with/ find a place to stay as needed.
    Many thanks
    Rob and Richenda Van Leeuwen

    • valghent
      November 1, 2012 6:38 pm

      HI Rob and Richenda,

      Thank you so much for your message and generous offer of assistance for Beryl. Please contact warcpresident@gmail.com and/or send me an email at val@valghent.com and I can forward. We’ll make sure you get in touch. I have limited info here in France so don’t know specifically who is still in the building and who has already moved to another space. I’m sure George and Deb can tell you.

      best to you both, and thank you again!

      Valerie

  2. Krista Alderson
    November 1, 2012 5:20 pm

    Hi Valerie,
    I will help with whatever fundraising efforts take place- I have the skills, and will make the time. let’s talk when you are back. thank you for posting this. love, Krista

    • valghent
      November 2, 2012 6:16 pm

      Thank you Krista! When we have our feet back on the ground (and flood waters drained away) let’s talk!! All help welcome & appreciated. much love to YOU! Val xx

  3. Monique Mojica (daughter of Gloria Miguel in H 211)
    November 1, 2012 7:32 pm

    Thank you so much for these detailed updates, though I a glad I didn’t know all of them before the family was able to put together a plan to move my mother. Will update you once this has been accomplished.

    I live in Toronto so the long distance thing has meant having to be real ‘creative’. Let me know what I might be able to do.

  4. Monique Mojica (daughter of Gloria Miguel in H 211)
    November 2, 2012 12:38 am

    Gloria Miguel H211 has been picked up by family & taken to Jersey City to the home of her niece Muriel Tarrant. Her cell is: 551) 208-3536. Gloria’s cell is: 917) 771-2836. She was having problems with reception tonight. I can be reached at this e-mail or at these phone numbers: 416) 533-3784 or 647) 522-3784.

    Grateful for the Westbeth community for its support.

  5. Jacqui Taylor Basker
    November 2, 2012 7:00 am

    Our hearts are with all our neighbors – let me know how I can help with any future fundraising event. I am now teaching in university in Jordan but home every few months -back next month – perhaps I can help organize an international tour of Westbeth musicians & artists as part of our efforts to restore Westbeth. I shall contact embassy here and get some info. They host musicians here yearly.

    • valghent
      November 2, 2012 6:15 pm

      Jacqui this would be wonderful indeed – an international tour of Westbeth musicians and artists = YES! If there is anything we can send you to support your proposal let us know!! xoxo

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  7. Joanne Eichel
    November 2, 2012 12:47 pm

    Please inform management that Edward Eichel who lives in Apt A-1106 and Stewart Brisby (not sure of his Apartment #) are safe and staying on Roosevelt Island.

    They can be reached at this email or by phone at 212.751.1194.

    Thank you to the Westbeth Community for all you’re doing to help.

    Everyone is in my prayers….
    Joanne

  8. Monique Mojica (daughter of Gloria Miguel in H 211)
    November 2, 2012 1:31 pm

    This came from an artist in New Mexico:

    CERF: Craft Emergency Relief Fund

    Dear Friends and Colleagues,
    As you know, the East Coast is just beginning to take count of the devastation resulting from Superstorm Sandy. CERF+ (Craft Emergency Relief Fund + Artists’ Emergency Resources) along with its partners in the National Coalition for Arts Preparedness and Emergency Response are just beginning to connect with the artists and arts organizations in the affected areas but it will be a long time before we understand the full toll on the cultural community. We do know that overall the damage is severe and widespread, as news reports show.
    CERF+ is committed to helping and to keeping you informed about the ways in which you can help. To facilitate in this effort, we will be actively posting news and promoting exchanges on the CERF+ Facebook page. Please use this location to let us know what you are seeing and hearing about how this disaster has affected the arts community, and be sure to repeat our posts on your pages to help us get the word out to the whole arts community.
    CERF+ has created the CERF+ Artists’ Relief Exchange. If you know an artist who needs help and/or if you can offer help (supplies, equipment, a place to stay or work, help in clean up, etc.), please join in this Exchange.
    CERF+ has also set up an Emergency Response web page that compiles the most critical resources including tips on getting assistance from FEMA, a listing of arts sector emergency resources, and some of the most relevant parts of the Studio Protector Online Guide such as information about disaster assessment and salvage.
    Finally, CERF+’s disaster relief assistance offers grants up to $3,000 and interest-free loans up to $8,000 for any professional craft artist who has suffered significant losses.
    Please help us get the word out about the availability of our assistance, our important recovery resources and our need for the community’s support at this time.
    With warm regards,
    Cornelia Carey
    Executive Director

  9. Monique Mojica (daughter of Gloria Miguel in H 211)
    November 2, 2012 2:05 pm

    This is the website for CERF+ for info on Emergency Artist Support:

    http://craftemergency.org

  10. Ricehnda Van Leeuwen
    November 2, 2012 5:51 pm

    Thanks Valerie for your response.

    Although it appears there is a lot of work going on at Westbeth to get the building back, there still is no common system for bringing food for the elderly who are unable to walk the stairs down to the common area.

    Government rations are available right outside the building, but it seems there is no mechanism to bring them to elderly occupants throughout the building.

    I was only able to reach our friend Beryl, (who had been living just on bananas) through volunteer friends of a colleague, who also happen to live in the West Village. They brought her water and govt rations to her apartment at lunch time today which should last her for the next 24 hours and have given her the first real meal in 3 days.

    I am worried that other elderly not very mobile people in the building who like Beryl don’t have relatives in the area may not have had access to food as they can’t get to distribution points.

    Given the feedback that no-one has been systematically bringing food to all elderly residents still there, It would be very reassuring to know if there has been some triage conducted and that there is by now a plan in place by building management to ensure that those elderly residents who are not mobile – and are unable to evacuate – will be being visited and provided food, water, and other essential items on a daily basis since this has not been happening in a structured way.

    If this is not the case or not possible, we can potentially mobilize more volunteers from other parts of the city in my network and via organizing the friends and family of other Westbeth residents (I’m in DC so can’t do it in person) to assist.

    Please advise.

    • valghent
      November 2, 2012 6:10 pm

      I will email you now and cc George and Deb so that you can be in direct contact with them. From here in France I have limited information, but as best I know volunteers have been systematically going through the building on a regular basis to make sure everyone is ok and has food/water and essentials.

      • Alexis Tryon
        November 8, 2012 12:34 pm

        I would love to find a way to help as well. Have an able bodied team that works not far from Westbeth. Available all weekend and other times as needed! Could you help direct me to someone to figure out what is needed?

  11. Michael Moss
    November 4, 2012 8:21 pm

    I am the Publicity Director of WARC, the Westbeth residents council. I know of a lot of damage done to musicians’ storage areas in the basements. One studio is completely wiped out including timpani, grand piano, amps, speakers, drums, a 20′ marimba, and electronics including mics, amps, speakers, sound boards, recording devices. That is MPI studio, but there are multiple storage/performing/rehearsal spaces that are completely totalled. If there is any way we can possible buy new equipment for these flooded out musicians I would appreciate hearing about it so i can pass it on.
    best regards,
    Michael Moss, Publicity Dir., WARC

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