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Sandy Damages Group Homes in Sheepshead Bay

November 28, 2012

Two YAI group homes for people with autism and other developmental disabilities in Sheepshead Bay were severely damaged during the recent superstorm Sandy.

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 One residence on East 13th Street incurred more than $200,000 in damage, mostly from the eight feet of water which backed up in the basement. Since the home is in Zone A and was under a mandatory evacuation order prior to Sandy, the 10 residents had already relocated to another YAI home in the borough. Movers were loading furniture onto a truck bound for a storage facility.

"This is really like rebuilding the house," said Vida Mani, Assistant Coordinator in YAI's Residential Department. "There was water and debris all over the place. One washer was on top of another, air conditioning units floated out of the wall, and we had a big refrigerator that ended up on a shelf."

Not far away on Avenue Z, another YAI home’s basement was flooded with backed up sewage. Six residents who were evacuated prior to the storm are staying in different YAI homes in the borough. Furniture and possessions from one individual's basement apartment were lost to the flooding. Repairs will cost $100,000. Insurance and FEMA should cover these damages and pay for replacing appliances, furniture and other possessions lost to the storm.

The more significant damage agency wide came in the form of lost revenue from day programs which were mostly closed for a week, medical practices which were closed a few days, and overtime costs in residential programs to ensure proper coverage. YAI incurred $2.1 million in lost revenue from Sandy. Funds to help YAI with theses losses and to enable the organization to prepare for future disasters are urgently needed.

"This storm affected everyone," said Stephen E. Freeman, CEO of YAI. "And it showed us so clearly that the people we support experienced the same sense of loss and disruption of life as other citizens. They couldn't leave their homes, they couldn't get to work and they couldn't see their friends and families."

A mailbox for Michael, who had moved into the supported basement apartment on Avenue Z about a year ago, was filled with letters. Michael, who is staying in a nearby supported apartment, has not returned to see the damage, but he knows his was gutted. While he looks forward to returning to his home, he is keeping everything in perspective.

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"Food can be replaced; clothing can be replaced; furniture can be replaced, but the human life cannot be replaced," he said.

YAI has established a Storm Restoration Fund. If you would like to contribute, please visit yai.org.