I want to go home, please … 8-26-2014
It was a sprawling building with entrances on all four sides and a great abundance of parking, but no legal handicapped parking. There was no sign inside or out, designating the location of the new NYRecreate Offices. I was told later when they are “up and running” and decide on a name, they will put a sign up.
So, while I knew the suite number, I had no indication which one of the six doors to use. I found a human who told me their suite was inside the north door. There was a high curb that jarred and twisted my wheelchair axle. None of the doors were accessible. As I entered the second hallway I was confronted by eight hefty carpeted steps. Barbed wire! Half an hour, multiple directors, multiple outside entrances later, I passed through the glass doors to an unassuming NYRecreate office.
I spent the next two hours sobbing, sitting in the conference room discussing my case with the coldest manager I ever met. She said all the right things. But, she never blinked. She offered no unsolicited information. She told me she was working very long hours, but when I asked what she was doing, she said listening to homeowners like me. It was obvious, and she admitted, she had absolutely nothing to offer anyone who needed help.
I was snot down to my knees, oozing into my mouth, dripping onto my blouse, from crying. Finally, I asked her if she had a tissue. She said, “They are out in the waiting room.” She never moved. It was the strangest reaction. I continued weeping, all slobbery, as she sat stoically observing me like I was a bird in a cage: representing disaster management.
I told her I came here unannounced because since Pro lost the bid and the new company took over, and we got letters that we have new case managers, no one is answering phone calls or emails. She said Pro was not gone. She said that the reason emails have not been answered is because the new company came in expecting to get up and running and use Pro’s email system. But Pro would not let them, so, those email addresses that were sent to us all in letters of Introduction were always invalid. The email that will supposedly get to a caseworker is: your firstname.lastname@example.org. I asked why we were never notified of this and she said, because they are not “up and running.” I asked why we were not notified they had moved, and she said, “We sent letters out three days after we moved.” I said that was odd.
I told her that everyone seems to be on vacation and that word is that they will not be doing business until mid October. She asked where I heard that. I said Facebook. She said, “Don’t listen to anything on Facebook. No one has spoken to me.”
I asked if the new company is operational. She said something about the contract not being settled, that Pro won’t let go. Issues must be resolved. I asked why. She said, “Because they are greedy.”
I did not understand. I said “Well, why don’t you do something?. Why don’t you go to the Governor: tell him what is going on.”
She said, “I can’t go to the Governor. I work here.”
I said, “No one is paying my hotel. I have no money. I need to go home. When are you going to be operational?” I was crying. I said, “I want to go home. I am getting sicker every day. I need to go home. People are suffering so much: so much suffering. People are living in gutted houses. Children are living in moldy homes. People are dying. So many people have died, from neglect: from waiting too long. It is horrific! Is that what they want, for us all to die?”
She said, “Why would they want that?”
I said, “Because it would save the state a lot of money.”
She said, “I don’t think that is what they want.”
I told her the story about the Governor running away from reporters asking him to talk to me after the Rally in Holbrook: that he jumped into a car and sped away from Sandy Survivors and media running after him, after I got blocked by stairs. I said it was a cowardly thing to do to a lady in a wheelchair who had formally requested through his Albany Office to meet with him.
She said robotically over and over in response to my questions, “We are in a transition period. When the issues are resolved, we will take care of your case.”
I said, “When will that be? How long is that? I need to go home! People are suffering. We all need to go home.”
She said over and over, “I have no idea. We are undergoing a transition.”
I said, “So you are not operating.”
She said, “I am here every day. I am meeting with homeowners. I am listening to them. I am working very hard.”
I said, “You are listening but you can not do anything. You are on hiatus.”
She got very agitated and said that was not correct. “Hiatus infers we are absent, not here. That is not the case. We are working every day.”
I said, “So you are working. But you are impotent. You are in transition and can do nothing until the issues with Pro are resolved. You have absolutely no idea how long that will take?”
She said, “That is correct.”