NYRising Complaint summary

In the event of my death, let this document stand before man and God as my true and accurate testimony: in the hope that no man will ever again be abused, dismissed, abandoned, and retaliated against in Disaster Recovery, simply because he/she is different and has special needs.

NYRising Complaint ­ XXXX

I, XXXX let this document speak for me on this, the 23rd day of January, 2015. NYRisingProgram/NYRecreate Acquisition Program XXXX

This COMPLAINT is filed against NYRising, NYRising Community Reconstruction Program, NYRising Buyout and Acquisition Programs, NYRecreate, The Office of Storm Recovery, The Housing Trust Fund Corporation (HTFC) and New York State Homes and Community Renewal (NYS HCR) and its Office of Community Renewal.

This is my documented Record of egregious conduct and Intent by all of the above named parties, directly and indirectly, to Harm me, Limit me (and my heirs) Impede and Prevent me in pursuing my legal Rights; and Deny me Due Process; and of Acts and Actions by the aforementioned parties, their Directors, Counsel, Contractors, Consultants and Agents, to deliberately, with collusion and forethought, to Deny me my NYRising/NYRecreate Program and Constitutional Rights; to Deny me Due Process; to Interfere with Due Process; to Act in Bad Faith; to Manipulate me in Program Process, Procedure and Appeal; to Misrepresent, Manipulate, Abort and Deny my Right to and/or Outcome of Appeal; TO ATTEMPT TO BREACH MY VERIFIED ACQUISITION CONTRACT OF SALE, USING THREATS, HARASSMENT, COERCION, UNDUE INFLUENCE; withholding information; entering into a Bad Faith Contract of Sale; Breach of the Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing.

And to Discriminate against me on the basis of my Disability; Discriminate against me By Association; Refusal to Provide Reasonable Accommodation in Programs and Services; continuous Denial of Responsibility to Implement Federal Disability/ADA/Accessibility Statutes, Standards and Requirements; Compelling me to Submit to an “Access Inspection” of my gutted, Substantially Damaged house by four Contractors (by their own report) with absolutely no qualifications in Access, Barrier Removal, Disabled Renovation, ADA Statutes, Federal Access Technical Requirements; and Retaliation because I pursued my Right to be treated like a Disabled Individual in Programs and Services and requested that the Programs and Process comply with Federal Disability Statutes.

Refusal of Equal Access to Programs in NYRecreate Acquisition/Buyout Program, while affording it to NYRising Repair/Renovation Applicants; Failure to produce, comply with and implement Internal Disability

NYRising Complaint ­ XXXX. (XXXX)) ­ Page 1 of 12

Policy and Procedures to expedite Disabled and Special Needs applicants through the system (This paperwork was a requirement for all companies to provide during the Bid Process.)

I was held to a different standard because of my Disability and because I requested Federal Statute Protections, and judged by a different Standard in Program Implementation, specifically in the Appeal Process and the documents I was required to submit: Subjectively, Judgmentally, with Bias, by Program Directors.
I was told that the Appeal Board evaluated the Certified Letter and Retroactive Independent Appraisal in increasing the Acquisition Offer amount (following submission to the Appeal Board of the Certified Letter and Retroactive Independent Appraisal). There were no other intervening factors. However, the entire amount increased by the Appeal Board following their consideration of my Access Documents, is now under threat of being arbitrarily withdrawn.

I hold a verified NYS Acquisition Contract of Sale dated October 3, 2014 with a Closing date stipulated to be November 2, 2014 and a purchase Price of $XXXX. NYRecreate refused to Close on schedule, even though I have consistently notified them over the last year that there was an urgent medical need for closure. NYRising/NYRecreate is attempting (3 1/2 months after the Contract of Sale was vetted and verified by two New York State Boards, signed by New York State) to Breach that Contract of Sale and reduce the sale price determined by the Appeal Board in Albany after completion of a lengthy Appeal Process (during which I was required to have written by professionals several reports not required of any other applicants), to reduce the Contract of Sale amount by $45,000 by threatening to throw me out of the Acquisition Program without cause if I do not immediately sign an Amendment terminating my right to execution of the existing legal Contract of Sale: I am being forced into signing papers to modify my Contract of Sale by threats, undue influence, and against my will, and forced to make statements that these coerced actions are voluntary when in fact they are not.

In the event I am forced to sign a Contract Amendment or any other paper Under Duress, I state here that I did not sign voluntarily, without being terrorized, threatened, harassed and coerced, for a prolonged period of time and slandered repeatedly to those who tried to help me, by Directors of NYRising/NYRecreate, threatened with homelessness, bodily harm because of my medical condition, by being thrown out of the Acquisition Program without cause.

I do not give up my legal rights, my liberty, nor do I agree to any limitations placed upon me by threat, coercion and duress. I do not agree to any change in my legal verified Contract of Sale or give up my right to have the original Contract executed as it was written and signed by me in good faith of my own volition on October 3, 2014.

NYRising Complaint ­ XXXX (XXXX) ­ Page 2 of 12

All aforementioned parties are responsible directly or indirectly for the bad faith actions, threats, coercion and extreme duress, and Denial of and Manipulation of my Right to Due Process in the NYRising/NYRecreate Programs and specifically in the Appeal Process, and in execution of my verified Contract of Sale, personal injury and for placing me in medical jeopardy.

I affirm that directly because of and inclusive of the above noted acts and actions, I sustained significant financial, emotional and physical harm.
I hold these statements to be true and accurate.

Respectfully, XXXX, XXXX, NY

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NYRising: Closing 911. 2-17-15

NYRising: Closing 911. 2-17-15

You can only push people who are being oppressed by an unreasonable aggressor so far. Then, they either retreat or fight back. We fight back with the means closest to our nature: some resort to violence, I resort to words and the law. That does not necessarily mean lawyers: who often operate by negotiating compromise. Sometimes the only way to follow the letter of the law, is to seek it yourself: with knowledge, respect and perseverance.

I had a NYRecreate Closing on my Substantially Damaged house on Tuesday, February 17, 2015. It was a forced proceeding, not a voluntary one.

I had been relentlessly threatened since December 14, 2014, with daily deadlines of being thrown out of the NYRising Program if I did not comply immediately with demands for them to Breach the signed and verified New York State Contract of Sale on my house and me take a reduction of $45,000 in the purchase price. On December 15, 2014, I got a phone call from my caseworker saying there was a Closing on my house the next morning. I was shocked. When I refused to sign papers terminating all my legal rights to Due Process, to executing my legal Contract of Sale, she began threatening me. I was crying. She claimed that I had signed a “Rider” that they could cancel my Contract of Sale at any time without cause. It never happened! I told her to send it to me, along with an email stating all she just now told me. She said she would do no such thing, that I was only entitled to the paper she sent my lawyer. I told her that paper said nothing.

I spent the rest of of December and all of January trying to get help, to stop NYRecreate from illegally Breaching my Contract of Sale, verified and signed by two N.Y.S. Review Boards. I went to private Contract Attorneys, who said I had no money; the Attorney General, who said he is NYRising’s Attorney so a conflict of interest; Law School Clinics, that said it is over their head; the ACLU, that said it is absolutely illegal for the State to Breach my Contract; Assemblymen and Senators, who said they work for the Governor and would not oppose his program; and many state and federal agencies, that told me nobody has any jurisdiction over NYRising or the Governor. I was told I exhausted all internal Appeals at NYRising and would have to take the case to court. The media offered publicity, too late. By January, I was under a gag order, or NYRising would walk away. I contacted the office of Darryl Towns dozens of times and Governor Cuomo hundreds of times with urgent pleas, right up until the last day. Darryl Towns’ office told me he had nothing to do with NYRising, repeatedly. I said his name is on the Cover Sheet for these Programs.

The Executive Chamber of the Governor’s Office implemented a charade lasting several weeks, claiming my complaint was “being processed with the highest priority.” It turns out, all that time they were forwarding my calls to a worker at NYRising, who answered my question “Do you work in the Executive Chamber or for NYRising,” repeatedly, with ” I work in the Executive Chamber.” For weeks she claimed to be processing my complaint with “the utmost urgency” as I held off the Closing, waiting for the Governor’s help. It turns out she did not work in the Executive Chamber, and complaints are only accepted by mail

By January, I was told if I signed a Rider accepting the reduction in price and stating that I “was not doing this under duress,” I would be given an immediate Closing. I was told I had no alternatives. I believed it, because no one would help me, NYRising had villainized me so! I was paying a hotel bill since April with borrowed funds. I had no money left, and the hotel wanted its money now. My physical condition had deteriorated without my needed medical equipment, probably to the point of no return. I was living packed in ice for the spinal pain and swelling for two years. I had multiple life-threatening consequences. I had no options: no hope! I was being demonized and vilified at every turn by Jon Kaiman.

I spent the weeks leading up to the Closing weeping constantly, withdrawn even from my family. I was ashamed of myself for giving up, that NYRecreate had made a fool of me by pretending an Appeal that never had any chance of outcome because they had capped the Appraisal price before the Appeal began: that they were making me lie on legal documents that I was not being coerced. I could not stand the injustice. I went to the beach and screamed into the sea until I was hoarse. I was exhausted: shabby, bedraggled, lost and alone. I could not be perceived as weak: after all I was already disabled, homeless and destitute from Sandy. I must be strong! I knew beyond a doubt that NYRising would rather see me dead than HOME. I thought often during that period of killing myself. It would be so easy not to go on . . . I was so tired. But, then, I would go to Hell, and I would have to meet the demons from NYRising all over again. I was too angry to give these ogres the satisfaction of Closing my case so easily: one more notch in their belts.

That last weekend, everything made me cry. I was oblivious to people: engulfed in the horror of being forced to give up my rights to an overbearing tyrant, to act against my will, against everything I believed in, or be homeless forever. I was engulfed in freedom and justice gone rancid. The intractable spinal pain was almost irrelevant, next to the pain in my soul. I told everyone, “I don’t know if I can do this.”

But, it was a snowy frigid morning, and my electric wheelchair bogged down through 6 inches of snow all the way to my car. The wheelchair skidded out of control up the ramp. Someone cut me off on the road and the wheelchair footplate went through the slots in the lift. So, when I tried to open the ramp, it jammed closed. There was no place for me to park at NYRising, so I had to park horizontal in three vertical spaces. My paperwork cascaded down the side of the lift into the snow and fell under the car. And there is no automatic door at NYRising, lobby or office. So, by the time I got into the Closing room, I was impacted by the challenges of my environment, intimidated by how crisp and impersonal everything was in that room, and aware that not one single person from NYRising was present. They had done the deed!

I had already signed the paper saying I was not signing under duress, signed it under threat, two weeks before, because they would not request a check without it. But they immediately broke the promise of an immediate Closing and left me in arrears at the hotel. The first thing the lawyer for NYRising said in this room was, she has to sign everything seven times. Shocked, I exclaimed, I have to sign twelve papers seven times! It’s not going to happen!” (I have paralysis in my arms as well as my legs, and since I lost my equipment, I lost grip in both of my hands.) There was a woman from the title company, a lawyer for the State, and my lawyer present. I spoke to no one but my attorney, did what I was told, and was handed a check that he looked at briefly and all had agreed would be a Bank Check.

I quickly put the check away. I just wanted to get to the bank. As I exited the conference room, there were two couples sitting right outside the door in the waiting room. They looked shabby and bedraggled, with mismatched rumpled clothes, clutching papers. Their faces were frozen between shock, depression, and destitution. They stared at the floor. One man looked up at me, imploringly. I mouthed, “God bless.” I saw myself.

I told the bank manager I needed a check for this month’s hotel. She said, “This is not a Bank Check. I looked at the check: written on it was the name of the Title Company, an Insurance Company, and a bank. This check would take a minimum of nine business days to clear and could be stopped at any time by each party. I had clearly stipulated to NYRising, “You get my deed, I walk out with a Bank Check.” All agreed it would be so. My bank told me not to deposit the check, to go back to NYRising and they could take it to their bank and turn it into a Bank Check or Wire Transfer before 3 p.m. It was a simple matter. I was not concerned.

I drove back to the Melville NYRising’s office. By this time, the pain in my spine was excruciating. I was very dizzy. I needed to lie down.

I entered an empty NYRising waiting room. It was 1:45 p.m. The receptionist was pleasant. I asked to see the State’s Attorney. “She’s gone,” was the response.”
“Then may I see the Supervisor.” I said.
“I think they are all gone,” was the reply.
I said, “It’s only 1:45. Please call someone. They gave me the wrong check and I need someone to fix it. I have to pay my hotel today.” She said there was no one to call: no one who could help. I quietly said, “Then call the police.” I was just matching her flip attitude. I did not think it would be a problem. After all, I had a written agreement for the check.

I noticed she looked over at the guard in the hallway. Immediately, he came into the waiting room. He never left! I wondered if he had a gun. He never took his eyes off me. I was scared because they told me in the Seaford office they had to bring armed guards in to handle angry Sandy people. The receptionist went inside the privacy doors and no one exited for 55 minutes. It was stiflingly hot in the waiting room. I felt faint.

Finally, at 2:40 p.m., a thin man, the Director of Operations, and a Supervisor, walked out the door to me. The woman avoided eye contact and spoke not a word. Obviously, she was there to witness.

He was a smug, smirking arrogant man, reeking of attitude, a stone NYRising wall. I explained that this check was given to me in error. “Here.” I put the folded check on the counter. I need someone to rectify this. I felt my face swelling from the pain. I knew I must be all red. I hated that!

He said no one was going to fix it. “You have a check. You accepted it.”
“I don’t know what a Bank Check looks like. You were supposed to give it to me.”
He said, “ME?”
I corrected myself.
He said in a slow patronizing droll, “So, you believe you had an agreement,” It was not a question, but a Rogerian statement.

“I said quite definitely, “We had an agreement!”
He continued in that creepy monotone, “You say you had an agreement to get a Bank Check.”
I said, “Why are you talking like that?”
He smirked, “You feel I am talking to you in a certain way.”
I said, “Why are you talking to me like I am a moron?”
He said, “You think we talk like morons.”
I said, “No, I said you are talking to me like I am a moron. You are talking like you are stupid. We both know you are not stupid and that you know exactly what is going on.” He smothered a giggle. He was getting the reaction he solicited.
He continued, “You think something is going on.”
“I said, “I am not talking to you. I will talk to her.” He turned and went to walk back through the privacy door. I said, “Where are you going?” because the Supervisor did not speak.
He said, “You called me a moron. You will not talk to me.”
“No, I said you are talking to me like I am a moron. Please get someone to help me. I have an agreement for a Bank Check.”
He said, “Was that written down?” “Where is it written down?” “Do you have a copy in writing on you?” “Someone said it?” “There are many State attorneys.” “Exactly who do you think said that?” “Do you have a name?” “What is that name?”. And on, and on . . .
He was playing with me like a cat with a dead mouse.

I repeated, “I want my money.”
He said, “There is no way to do that. The checks come from Staten Island.”
I told him that my bank said all NYRising has to do is take this to their bank and issue a Bank Check or a Wire Transfer.
I said, “We had an agreement: You get my Deed. I walk out of here with a Bank Check.” I was really thinking, “You stole my house! I want my money.”

He was bobbing back and forth in my face like a cheap carnival doll on the dashboard, tight square mouth, twitching upward into a self assured smirk at my responses. I saw a Program gone awry: Sandy victims further away from home than they were on the day the hurricane hit. The room was full of malice: I was suffocating from the rancor.

I said calmly. “I got here at 1:45. You left me sitting here until 2:40 p.m. Now you tell me there is nothing you can do. There is still time for you to go to the bank.”

“It’s not going to happen.” He insisted. The checks are issued in Staten Island.”

I said, “You’re telling me you are going to do nothing.”
“That’s right.”
“I want my money.” I said. “You have my deed. I want my money.”
“You have a check,” he said, dismissing me.
“The agreement was I get a Bank Check. This is not a Bank Check.”
“That’s what you say. You think you had an agreement.” He hummed softly, hammering every word into a slow sing-song voice.

My lawyer was on the phone. He explained they were saying I had to take this check because I accepted it. I said, “We had an agreement!” That was all that mattered to me at this moment. My head was bloodied from hitting brick walls for 28 months, and dealing with awful people following scripts from the devil. I was done with governmental irrational decrees protected by immunity from an almighty intangible force accountable to terrestrial particles. Enough!

My lawyer said there was nothing he could do: they would not budge. He said it would take longer to get the check replaced than to clear it, because the State “believes” I took the check and made a copy of it and cashed it, so they have to wait until it clears. I was incredulous at these fiends making up more stories about me: putrid people puking on my life. I told him the name of who I went to at my bank, explaining the State could ask her if I cashed it. I explained, the check is in my hand unsigned: how did I cash it. They were accusing me of a serious crime!Jon Kaiman flashed through my mind with all his idiotic accusations against me that kept me isolated from any help from anyone: abandoned and alone by a shadow-of-doubt conspiracy designed by egomaniacs. I was hemorrhaging into the moment: wounded by new lies.

The Director chirped at me from a position of power, “Nothing is going to happen here”
I said to the voice on the phone, “You cannot do anything? I am calling the police.”
I said aloud, “Well then, I will call the police.” and dialed my phone several times. For some reason, it kept dropping the call.

He said very calmly, “No. You wont! You are not going to bring anybody here.”
I said, “Yes. I will!” I dialed my cell phone again. He moved slightly toward me. I was frightened, but he never touched me. The calls kept dropping: I could not
get a call out. I said, My phone wont work. He smirked. “MY signal’s fine,” I wanted to rip his face off and see if there was anything behind it.

I looked at the receptionist and said, “Please call 911.”
He instantly barked at her, “Don’t call anyone.”
I said to her again, “Please call 911. I need a policeman.”
He said, “No one is calling the police. No police are coming!”

I went into the lobby and made an emergency call. Just before the police arrived, the dispatcher called and asked me to meet him in the parking lot.

The policeman was an ordinary man with absolutely no reason to be considerate to me. Yet he was extremely kind, and listened carefully with respect as I explained how I returned with an improperly issued check in plenty of time for them to replace it today, but they ignored me and delayed, then told me there was nothing anyone can do about the check: that I must accept it, there is no recourse, badgering me with a pointless sing-song theatrical charade. I was crying. I told him I just wanted to file a formal complaint. He took my report, looked at the check, and asked me if I had paperwork to prove there was a process involved, to protect myself. He said they could not take back the money, although I did not ask him that. He said he would go inside with me and try to get a replacement check. But, I told him they said everyone is gone and the checks are issued in Staten Island, and I think the lawyers are trying to work it out. He said if I had to come back tomorrow, to call him and he will accompany me into the NYRising office to make sure they give me no problem.

Then I told him how NYRising deliberately led me through a Fraudulent Appeal Process for 6 months that never had any possibility of outcome, and that they slandered me unmercifully so that no one would help me. I was weeping with the memory. He asked if I was going to follow through on the fraud. He said if there was anything at all he could do, to call him, and gave me the Police Report Number. I explained how many thousands of people are still homeless and suffering: and that NYRising is hurting so many people. He said he knew many stories related to NYRising. He asked if I was going right home. I knew my face was red from the pain and he was concerned. We had talked for over an hour, and we parted shaking hands: he to his squad car, me to re-enter the building for a timeline.

I entered the NYRising waiting room, only to find out what time the State’s Attorney would be in tomorrow morning, because I knew I would never get through to them by phone. The receptionist said, “Aren’t the police coming in?”

I said, “No, we concluded our business.”

She went inside. I started to leave. The awful man walked through the privacy door with a small pink post-it in his hand. He said several times that my lawyer’s office was trying to contact me: please call them. He thought the matter was resolved: all the lawyers are talking; he has nothing to do with this; he knows nothing, but the situation looks good. He sat down quietly beside me and started chatting pleasantly. I stared at his face. He was not smirking now. He opened the doors for me as I left, and walked me to my car on the other side of the parking lot in the snow, to make sure I got in. It was very cold and he had no coat on.

He said it was very nice to meet me and wished me luck now that I had money. I told him calmly that the check did me no good: it was not enough; they took back $45,000 (the access money awarded by the Appeal Board) at the last minute or they would not Close on my house; I can not get an accessible home with this, or modify an existing home to be accessible in this geographical area. I can not rent, because nobody would let me modify their property for my needs. There was no resolution for me . . . I closed the lift and he was gone.

I laid my head gently on the steering wheel: I was reeling. I was safe. The pressure in my spine was crushing me and tearing me apart at once. I was burning up and freezing, shaking. I held my service dog close, and slipped away into cottony oblivion. I woke up with Pollyanna vigorously licking my face. The phone was playing a melody. Amy at my lawyer’s office was telling me that I could pick up the Bank Check between 10 and 11 tomorrow morning in Melville. I had to make another trip. She was so pleasant, I felt like I had fallen asleep and awakened in another universe: a kinder place

The next morning I returned to the NYRising office in Melville expecting who knows what, unsure if I should call the Police Officer to come before, as he suggested, or after, trouble. A lawyer who helped me into the office the day before, came running out to open the heavy glass doors. I was in the waiting room from yesterday, surrounded by ugly memories. He watched me in the empty room, wondering what I was doing here again.

The privacy door abruptly opened: wide and sudden. A dark-haired woman did not identify herself in any way. She called my name, saying clear and pleasantly, “We are doing a barter.”
I said “Yes.”
She slapped a paper down on the chin-high counter next to me and asked me if I had a pen. She made me sign, a picture of the first check on it: written on the paper was, “I received.” It didn’t make sense to me that I should sign this, unless she signed it too, because I was not receiving the old check but the new. We exchanged checks. I asked her name as she ran back through the door. She said her first name and I knew she was the State’s attorney.

You do not walk away from abuse like NYRising has intentionally inflicted on homeless Sandy Survivors, dehumanizing and disrespecting people to control them, people who have lost everything through no fault of their own, and are vulnerable. You endure it. You struggle through it, because you have no choice. But it will always be imbedded in your flesh: part of the fabric of your life: an indelible imprint of the great natural event that tore your life apart and left you at the mercy of massive governmental recovery system failure.
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Sandy Survivors Suffering. Letter to the Editor. 12-12-14

Sandy Survivors Suffering!

Letter to the Editor. 12-12-14

In this season of joy and good will, there are thousands of Survivors of SuperStorm Sandy peppered throughout your communities: who are suffering, cold, hungry, many living in gutted, moldy houses because Housing Programs ran out, with children, sick, disabled dying, waiting too long. Sandy Survivors are isolated on the fringes of a society in denial, glad it was not them who lost everything to the terrible flooding, sewage and slime on October 29, 2012.

Sandy Survivors have been drained, financially and emotionally, by failed U.S. Disaster Recovery systems ill-prepared for major disaster, discriminating against Sandy Victims because of abuses they claim Katrina victims committed.

Sandy Survivors are being tormented, forsaken, by inept Repair/Renovation Programs, like New York State’s failed NYRising Program: limping along, put out to bid almost two years into the disaster, reorganizing and floundering midstream. NYRising Victims working diligently to get home, are pummeled by inaction, delaying tactics, manipulation of facts, constant lost paperwork, unanswered communications, favoritism, and total abandonment of desperate homeowners. NYRising’s Program was hastily implemented, before it was designed, and is continually, erratically changing rules, increasing requirements, decreasing grants, back-sliding, to the extreme detriment of displaced homeowners.

I beg you, the public, to look into the eyes of your community, recognize your neighbor’s who lost everything through no fault of their own: reach out to them with kindness, support empathy and good will. There but for a few degrees on a map, goes YOU! ALL WE WANT TO DO IS GO HOME!
Hurricane Sandy Survivor.

FEMA PTSD. 7-2-13

FEMA PTSD 7-2-13

There is a beauty in losing everything, in being destitute in a world of plenty, in a world of things. When you have lost everything you struggled and sacrificed for all of your life, rather than a void to be filled, there is a crystalline strength in you to be accessed. You see clearly. You feel, untethered. You know truth, You fear nothing. Possibility is unlimited.

Nothing worse can happen to me. I have nothing left to lose. Nobody can hurt me more. That is very liberating, and sad. I tell no lies.

The agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security, called FEMA, is out-dated, and out of control. It needs to be investigated and held accountable for its actions and mistakes, re-thought, re-structured, re-designed. FEMA has become a pale shadow of its original intent, which was to coordinate response to a U.S. disaster that overwhelms local and state resources.

Present day FEMA runs rampant over people and circumstances, wrecking havoc on good and honest men, making a disastrous event into a human relations nightmare, an avenue to destitution and bankruptcy. FEMA treats people with callous disrespect, and gives them outrageous token assistance that is much more a hindrance to recovery than a help. People walk away from their homes, because they are being offered nothing: no help, assistance, options, no hope. People walk away from FEMA disrespected and bleeding. I watch broken peers walk into the surf, shoved from shelter, with no place left to lie down, and I am diminished.
The problem is not the resources of FEMA or its limitations, it is the attitude, training, process, procedure and accepted outcome. FEMA gives people only the ability to walk away from their homes, or paste together disorder and destruction, in the name of restoration: to become an unlivable sinkhole when FEMA is safely removed, working on its next disaster. FEMA is hindrance: negative help, professional bullies.

This is the country I love. I wish I could say something more positive about their effort to manage disastrous events. But, the only productive way to interact with FEMA is to point out their glaring failures, and hope that someone will respond with critical analysis and action. It is time to stop limping off alone and licking our wounds. We must stand up together and acknowledge how much damage FEMA does, for change to happen. There is momentum in truth, to action.

I am not afraid of FEMA. I lost everything. Then, FEMA destroyed all of the intangibles I had left. I join a crowd of people who have been hurt, not helped by FEMA. Perhaps we are irreparably hurt. Perhaps we can recover, despite FEMA.

Hitting a Brick Wall. 9-27-14

Hitting a Brick Wall. 9-27-14

Hitting a brick wall isn’t really very scary, when bureaucrats have been building brick walls in your face for two years. A sudden oncoming embankment at 50 mph triggered defiance in me, at that amorphous fate that picked me tonight to splatter. It was a metaphor for what my life has become at the hands of others: and possibly avoiding it is foreshadowing of things to be.

So it was to be the end for me on a murky stretch of Sunrise Highway just east of Carlton Avenue at 8:30 p.m. on a misty Fall Saturday night. It was an end I refused to accept. A blood clot, an autonomic storm, or the melanoma, maybe, but this, I would not tolerate.

It was the perfect end to a perfect day. By nightfall, I had totally forgotten where I was in the horrific timeline of my life, for one sweet day. This morning, I decided to seek some normalcy, after almost two years isolated in bed by intractable pain in a small dark hotel room, peering through the horrible distorted haze my life had become at the hands of FEMA and the Disaster Recovery System: which has tormented, dismissed and abandoned tens of thousands of east coast Americans for two onerous years in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

I was an advocate for disabled people, an ADA Consultant, a hero to many, before SuperStorm Sandy blasted all of our lives into slivers of contaminated memories, muck, and hideous bureaucratic incompetence: before FEMA disrespected us all. I awoke today wanting to touch the person I was before the sewage surged into my comfortable home, contaminating everything I owned with putrid slime and importing bullies in government boots into our neighborhoods. I longed to hold yesterday in my hand, to validate my past, if only for a moment. I decided to go to the East End and inspect a Village for disabled access, like everything was normal.

I drove the same route east that I had driven for all the years of my volunteer work on the East End. But I was different now, a stranger in my van: scarred, profoundly sad, numb, disbelieving, so pensive: the last two years running in front of my car. I was desperate to shed the ugliness of bureaucrats and the insanity of the Disaster Recovery System I was forced to operate within since Hurricane Sandy. I longed to recover the contentment and security of my life before Sandy. I longed to recover me: if only for one day.

With every mile I drove away, I felt the muck of my mutilated life crust and drop away: shedding layers of indignity and abuse. I was in the moment, with shafts of sunshine and balmy breezes prying at the edges of my profound sadness, soothing me, reviving me.

Miles of lush rejuvenated scrub Pines stretched along the highway, recalling the Sunrise Fire of 1995, a series of major brush fires in the Westhampton area in late August, that razed 7,000 acres of the East End Pine Barrens and closed down Sunrise Highway for days. I remember smoke engulfed the area with days of fear the fire would spread to East End towns. This stretch of highway brought back the fires for me. As I passed Shirley, I always remembered the mysterious explosion over the Atlantic Ocean near East Moriches, of TWA’s Boeing 747 Flight 800 on July 17, 1996: reports of missile strikes, cover-ups, recovery, memorials and monuments on the beach at Smith Point County Park. I remembered the crowds of rescue vehicles and boats, months of mystery, conflicting eyewitness reports and major inconvenience.

The land was reverberating its history, triggering memories of my involvement in the pattern of the past. I forgot where I was in time and suddenly realized life is not all about FEMA. There is life outside of FEMA Hell. The breeze dried tears I spontaneously shed for the loss of my place in line. Layers of the hypocrisy and hatefulness of others toward me fell away. In the distance, I saw the person I lost as a result of the horrible failures of the Recovery Systems and the bureaucratic maze of incompetence after Hurricane Sandy.

Lost in thought, time passed quickly. I pulled into the Village peaceful, anticipating a productive afternoon of purposeful work in quiet solitude, inspecting access accommodations. But, I was immediately reminded that this was a day to celebrate Fall harvests. There was a banner stretched above Main Street announcing the event, and what seemed like thousands of people lined the sidewalks, here to party on this exquisitely beautiful day. I was a wounded warrior walking through the Mardi Gras: returning from two years isolated in one dark hotel room with officials of FEMA and NYRising bashing me.

Hoards of well dressed people walked across the intersection I designed, in the walkway I relocated, down the curb cuts I made safe for them, using the traffic lights I timed to accommodate a wheelchair user. They didn’t know the work that went into that one intersection, or who I was. I was ingrained in the history of this place, coming home to nourish my broken heart.

I knew the people here would not help me to go home: most were tourists, here to soak in the ambiance, perhaps some seeking solace too, like me, in a beautiful place. I knew the townspeople would not help me, despite seventeen years of expertise I gave to the Village: because when my house went down, I put fliers around the community and spoke to people, to no avail. I was beyond looking for someone to rescue me. I belonged here.

I went to the disabled parking space created for me behind Village Hall, but they were renovating Village Hall, and my space was full of construction materials. I evaluated and modified architect plans for access for this renovation years ago. I drove to Main Street and parked in the disabled space on the corner of the Lane and Main Street.

As I exited my Rampvan, there were people everywhere, living today, using the walkways, parking, intersections I designed: in flip flops and shorts, holding hands, laden with purchases, pushing strollers, bikes, carrying antiques and large paintings, colorful balloons, popcorn, ice cream cones, walking dogs on leashes. I felt my people, without homes, walking beside the beautiful people, shivering and invisible. I was one of them. I crossed the intersection, while singers on every corner, with guitars, drums, and keyboards, filled the Village with melody.

I rode slowly west on the Lane, homeless and wounded, reluctant to be visible, watching life go by. Joyful people looked at me like I was one of them. I loved them for their innocence. I wanted anonymity and acceptance today. Tomorrow was time enough for truth and pain.

As I traveled west, waves of people crowded past my large powerful wheelchair on the narrow sidewalk. Every one of them looked me in the eye and said “Good Day.” I was in awe of the moment: hoards of ambling people were open and sweet and only wanting to relax on this brilliant Fall day. I was here: now. They validated a part of life that I had not known for a very long time and forgot existed. I decided to absorb the moment, and to make a second pass through the Village later for my access inspection.

Coming toward me was a double stroller, pushed by a stunning woman with long silky hair. A newborn wrapped in pale blue fleece slept angelic in the right-side
seat. In the left, a bouncing, giggling toddler in lavender overalls held the leash of a large, dignified, meticulously-groomed black poodle. The dog wore a red t-shirt with the letters “Baby Sitter” written in black, with a red bow above each ear. As I passed, the man smiled at my maltese and said, “Adorable.” I smiled at their silly poodle taking himself so seriously, and forgot that I was homeless, and alone.

Across the street, by the Art Gallery, several voices and guitar performed too loud, “Who will Stop the Rain,” as fans sat on the wall visualizing gentle showers. My mind filled with tidal waves, long dark corridors of Disaster Recovery and mold. I needed to move on.

Two laughing girls in pink jeans skipped across the sidewalk in front of the Confectionery, swinging, twirling, tossing their long yellow curls. I saw that their faces were painted beautifully with pretty delicate pink and white flowers. There was a sign that read, “Face Painting.”. I loved them for their uninhibited joyfulness and their innocence. But relentlessly the children of the Storm back in FEMA Hell were tramping through my mind: watching their parents slowly die of want and bureaucratic abuse, trying to get back home. We all needed a day in the sunshine.

As I approached the park, I noted signs for the restrooms I designed were newly painted. I was startled by a tangled crowd of people strewn across the lawn enjoying the festivities.. I was swamped with visuals. People and concessions, wandered all the way to the lake. Strollers criss-crossed the park, as children ran, arms outstretched, with delighted abandon. Children sucked on candy apples, ice cream cones and cotton candy. Five young boys ran in circles in the middle of the lawn, playing tag with a barking Golden Retriever. Two tiny Yorkies, dragging streamers, ran up to me and looked up. Pollyanna stood up, ready to play. They turned and ran back to their security, satisfied my mass was not a threat. The Retriever stuck his silken head under my left arm, snuggled and slobbered a moment, then ran away. The sweet fragrance of corn on the cob and sauerkraut teased me. I was hungry. People sang Ballads, Rock, and songs of the Sixties, all mixed together in one loud divergent symphony, overstimulating. A woman from the pet store across the way chatted about my service dog and invited me to participate in the Pet Parade in three weeks. Everywhere, everyone acknowledged me with pleasant conversation. No one knew that I was different: homeless.

So it went. It was a golden day of friendly people and sensory stimulation. I was cautiously happy, because I knew that I did not own a place in life right now. But it felt good to walk through the world of the living, if only for a day.

Main Street was more of the same, pleasant people sitting at tables, eating meals outside at curbside restaurants along the sidewalk, with friendly dogs beside them on leashes: people smiling at me, not away. It was difficult to receive unconditional acceptance, after being battered and dismissed for two years in the Disaster Management System. But I was here, now, and I never wanted to leave.

In front of Village Hall people sat on bales of hay, on benches, on the sidewalk, while a woman sang Cher’s song “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me.” She sang, “Feeling broken Barely holding on But there’s just something so strong Somewhere inside me. And I am down, but I’ll get up again. Don’t count me out just yet.”. I knew she was singing just to me, so I stopped and listened with appreciation. I felt like the crowd understood.

Before I left the Village, I went to Dune Road to complete my access inspections, and rested in my van on a hill overlooking the ocean, while my service dog hung her tiny head out the window and fell asleep to the hissing of the ocean across the sandy shore. I inspected the phone booths I had put out on Dune Road, and was proud that I had fought so hard for them. I watched Cranes and Osprey glide across the marshland as far as I could see, and horseshoe crabs move like magnets in unison in the sea grass beneath my feet beside Road D: a phenomenon I look forward to witnessing each fall. The bright sun fell low over Dune Beach and closed its eyes on a day well done. As I was leaving Dune Road, miniature deer nibbled at the lush lawns of sea-side estates: I was honored, peeking into their secret sanctuary, witness to their vulnerability.

As I drove away from the solace of familiar environments, filled with the nourishment of blue skies, the rhythm of the ocean, the chatter of friendly people, and productive work, I was content. I listened to Bobby Vinton and sucked on hot cinnamon candies. Pollyanna was fast asleep under a pink bunny blanket in her car bed beside me, exhausted from being adored all day by strangers.

Riding west, back to SuperStorm Sandy homelessness, to the place where I belonged before the storm but is uninhabitable now, felt cold. The trip back home was usually a time of sweet reflection: replaying the day. The East End turns very black after the sun sets, and no matter how delightful is the day, once darkness falls, I always want to go home. But, by the time I get to Babylon, it feels like I am at a carnival, with all the bright lights and busy, colorful businesses on Sunrise Highway and, I long to return to the Long Island “country.”. Today was different. With every mile, I rode closer to life on hold: to the horrific reality of the failed Disaster Recovery System in America, to FEMA Hell, to NYRising litany of broken promises. As night descended, the friendly faces of strangers celebrating the Fall season, was juxtaposed against abandonment of Sandy Survivors. Reality always resurfaces when the light of day fades.

I was driving in traffic moving smoothly along at the speed limit, when without warning the gross hand of fate turned the path in front of me into hellfire. Suddenly the car in front of me swerved to the left and sped away. It seemed strange, until I saw directly in front of me in the road, looming unavoidable, two large jagged metal objects that looked like file cabinets: in my face! I braked, but not completely because there were cars behind me. I had no recourse! Head on collision was imminent. I wondered what idiot dropped these off a truck onto the roadway and kept driving with total disregard for others. I was angry at incompetence and apathy.

The cars around me sped away. My van lurched forward and I swerved to the right, seemingly out of control. I heard all my salvaged belongings falling off the rear seat. I was not afraid. After living the last two years in FEMA Hell, I had no fear. I was in survivor mode. It was a mine field. I just missed the huge metal objects, swerving toward the cement wall. I had nowhere to go: no time to think. I braced for collision I could not avoid. Was this the end of me? I held tight onto the steering wheel of the lurching van, and refused to let go. I took all the hatefulness and injustice directed at me in the last two years navigating the Disaster Recovery System, and channeled it into defiance. I would not let go!. Holding tight, I swerved to the left, just enough to narrowly miss the wall: finding a path between the metal objects and the wall, not quite wide enough. It seemed like hours, but it was only moments: a lifetime. I felt a blow. I knew I was hit.

But, I kept my hands firmly clutching the wheel, anticipating the final blow, trying to navigate the crevice between the offending objects and the concrete wall, as I had navigated through the maniacs at FEMA. I felt strangely calm and in control. I would not allow the last two years of my life in FEMA Hell to be the story of my life.

In the final analysis, hitting a brick wall is nothing, after being walled up behind the brick walls of the horrific Disaster Recovery System in America. There is nothing worse than losing control of your life, through no fault of your own, to corruption, incompetents, profiteers and egotists in important jobs. Brick walls!

I heard a loud crack. I waited for an explosion, oblivion. But there was only the road, and me: and a direction for me to choose. I chose Home! My mind was clear. The van was weaving away from obstacles. My path was clear. I held the wheel so tight it seemed it would break. My eyes were fixed on the path home. I was invincible.

The road was dark. I was alert. I wanted to stop and look at the damage, but I was afraid someone might hurt me on the dark road. My chest hurt terrible. My foot was on the gas and I kept it there. I called to inform authorities of the obstacles in the roadway.

I was driven by one thought, “I want to go home.”

I pulled into the brightly lit hotel parking lot, afraid to look at my van, but needing to just the same. The thought of dealing with fixing the damage, in addition to dealing with the inept disaster management system, was too much to think about tonight. I turned, in order to transfer into my wheelchair, and realized for the first time that everything was pinned against my seat, the wheelchair being held from me by a blue ice cooler cracked in half. The back bench seat was tilted forward, jammed upside down by the ceiling. All of my belongings were piled against me, having cascaded from the seat onto the wheelchair. One of the leg rests to my power chair was cracked. The van was a jumble of yesterday: odds and ends of a life put on hold by natural disaster and bureaucratic incompetence, hopefully unbroken, because they were packed in styrofoam.

I felt grateful as I piled boxes all over the front seats, and others pulled the broken seat off the ceiling.. After much effort, the seat swung into a horizontal position, obviously bent and out of place. I put the suitcases and blankets back on the seat, unjammed my wheelchair, sopped up ice water on the floor, lifted Pollyanna from her fleecy nest, and exited the vehicle. I was anxious to see the external damage to my wheelchair van.

I scanned the front of the van, the side, the hood, the other side, the doors. There was no gaping hole, no smashed fenders, no broken lights. I was confused. There were huge obstacles in the road on my way home. They hit me hard. I held on tight. I would not let them vanquish me.

I got a flashlight and rode around the van once more, meticulously inspecting every inch for evidence: front, back, hood, both sides. On the edge of the side panel in front of the left tire on the drivers side, there was a deep, ruler-straight seven-inch gouge imprinted, but not cut all the way through: a scar. An inch below that, perfectly parallel, was a second three-inch gouge. It was obvious the corner of the file.cabinet had clipped me as I navigated between it and the cement wall, leaving a graphic reminder that reaction works. I closed my eyes and whispered, “Thank you God!” three times. I wondered why God gave me this one.

At daylight, I rushed out to look at my van, wanting to validate that something really happened. The two cuts looked like deliberately-placed deep knife wounds. But, overnight each had developed a black line down it’s center, that looked strangely like a scab. Was healing possible?

NYRecreate, I want to go home,please . . . .. 8-26-14

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 caseworker@nysandyhelp.ny.gov. 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.”

Barbed wire!

NYRecreate, Are U In There? 8-5-2014

NYRecreate, Are U In there: 8-5-2014

Constant excruciating pain is my reality, from loss of $50,000 in medical equipment during SuperStorm Sandy over 21 months ago. It is August, and with damaged temperature control due to severe autonomic dysfunction from SCI, I am at extreme hazard in hot humid weather. I am living in a hotel room: not home. When I need to go out in my electric wheelchair, I must take supplies stored in my wheelchair van out, and put them in the hotel room. When someone is coming to visit me, I must put those items back into the van. This is time-consuming and difficult: a small price to pay for a place to be. My electric wheelchair must be kept in the hotel room, because the battery discharges quickly in the elements. My garage drowned. So, when I need to go out, I must charge my wheelchair and move it through the narrow hotel room door, out into my Rampvan.

Invariably the chair veers out of control when I gun it to get over the marble threshold, and I gash the door. I touch up the white metal surface with a paint pen before I leave, and usually again when I return. Before I leave, I place orange cones in two parking spaces, hoping that no one will move them and claim the spaces.before I get back, or take the cones home once more. I hope my key card does not turn red when I return, because I cannot get to the office in the wheelchair. Pulling out of the parking space, I know for sure that I will never ever be as comfortable or secure as I was on October 28, 2012, making 100 meatballs to freeze for Christmas buffet in my warm, fragrant kitchen. And I know that nobody gets it, or cares!

All this is only relevant to illustrate that it is not simple for me to go out into the world, living in a hotel room without what I need to function with SCI. The systems are harsh, inflexible, and irrationally judgmental.. They circulate paperwork that I am “difficult,” “hard to please,” and “uncooperative” if I voice what I require. In the horrific world of Disaster Programs and Agencies, different needs translate to a person who is “uncooperative.” If you hold up the line, they make you pay for it!

I am in my van heading for NYRecreate in Farmingdale to deliver the Independent Appraisal I am required to submit to Appeal my Acquisition Offer. I breathe a long deep sigh of relief that I made it this far, and I want to go home. But, home is gone! Comfort is gone! Security is gone! There is cement all around me. I follow the line of a faux stone wall to Sunrise Highway, easing very slowly down the parking lot exit ramp so that my Rampvan does not bottom out. I remember my birthday six weeks after I got my van. My birthday present was a sidewalk the width of my yard, and a ramp from the street to my driveway, because my Rampvan was totally unable to enter or exit my own property. I was so happy and grateful for that ramp, and all the structural access modifications that were installed in my house and property. That was my norm. I was not different there. I was accepted for what I am. I am crying now, driving.

I cry every time I venture into my post Sandy world. There is barbed wire everywhere, walling me off from people who did not live through Sandy, walling me in to failing Programs and Agencies spewing incompetence and fraud, slashing me as I try to move forward, binding me to the rubble of yesterday, piercing hope. When I am inside the hotel room, I have very little that is mine. But I also have no visuals of the world I knew. When I go out, and I see familiar places, it cuts me deep with what I lost. When I go to a store, everywhere, I see what I need, what I lost. When I see people driving to a destination, I know that I have none. No matter where I go, I do not really belong: I do not want to be there. I wander alone with a pinpoint focus on home, in a world that went on without me and forgot who I was. I must create what I need, from nothing. I am filled with panic, fear and hopelessness, choking down silent screams: alone in a world of strangers and things.

I drive east on Sunrise Highway and turn north on Route 110, noticing that all the traffic lights are off. I wonder if there is no electric in all of these houses and businesses. How vulnerable we can all become in a moment. I wonder why the electric is off. I maneuver around police cars with flashing lights, snarled traffic, and irate drivers. I am not impacted by them: life crises seem so trivial now.

As I pull up to the NYRecreate Office building, I notice the windows look dim. I surmise their electric is off also, and hope the combination lock is working. I am wondering why my new caseworker did not answer my calls this morning telling her I was coming. I am thinking about the fact that the NYRecreate’s Offices are not accessible to anyone in a wheelchair. The main entrance of the building is open to all. But people using wheelchairs must request, if they can get through to anyone, to go through a heavy metal door on the side of the building that has a keypad combination lock: so illegal. They don’t get it!

I called my new caseworker for a third time, and listened to a message that said she would get right back to me. I had no general number for the NYRecreate Office. They always said call the 1-800 number. I parked in the illegal handicapped parking, with its three-foot access aisles, because I did not want to sit out in the sun in my wheelchair waiting until someone might come along and might let me into the building. I figured I would watch from the car to see if someone came back from lunch. I always park on the other side of the complex in the van spaces by the child care, far away from here, just so I can get out of my car with the electric wheelchair. Last year, I came to deliver papers. I had never been given a phone number. I sat in my wheelchair for one hour in the freezing rain outside the combination door, knocking on the windows of the conference rooms, trying to get someone to notice and open the door. After an hour, shivering, I was finally let in by someone returning from lunch.

So here I am today sitting outside NYRecreate Office in the heat, feeling like the second-class citizen that I have become operating within Disaster Recovery, for an hour, wondering how I am going to deliver this paper that I am required to file. I see in the distance a man gardening. I begin watching him, trying to drag him down to this end of the complex with the power of my. mind. After about a half hour, he starts walking across the grass toward me. I begin strategizing. Closer, I shout as politely as one can shout, “Excuse me sir, can you please help me.” Oddly enough, he is a kind man, and he comes over to the car and says, “What do you need.”

I asked if he could get me through that door, because I had to deliver this paper. He said he surely would do that. I began the process of getting the wheelchair out of the car. I first had to park sideways in three parking spaces so I could get back into my car. He was very patient and friendly, and there was absolutely no one within eye-shot: but I was oddly not afraid, because I was focused on getting into that building. He punched the keypad: so easy when you know the numbers. He struggled to hold the heavy metal door open as it tried to swallow me. The small vestibule was crowded with boxes and the hall inside was strewn on all sides with empty boxes. I thought it was a mess. There were several men in suits standing and they asked the handyman what I was doing here. He explained that I wanted to deliver a paper to NYRecreate. They told him to take me to the front desk. I wondered why.

The front desk turned out to be at the other end of the complex and I found myself grateful that I did not bring my broken electric wheelchair that only runs for 20 minutes. As we turned the corner, there were suddenly three people staring at me from behind a desk, like I had spaghetti on my head. I guess they were wondering how I got in. The kind handyman told them I came to give some papers to NYRecreate. He told me when I was ready to leave, to call him, and left me there by a stairs I could not descend, on the inside of a locked combination door. Barbed wire!

The receptionist quickly offered, “NYRising moved.”
I wondered why I had to come all the way back here to be told.
Her words smashed against my weary head. I was confused, frustrated, angry.

“NYRISING MOVED?” I exclaimed, “You have GOT to be kidding me!”

She said she was not kidding, and pointed to a sign on the wall.
I exclaimed, “”They move, and they don’t even tell us? What is that? They don’t bother to tell people.”
Everybody just stood there like I was the unreasonable one. But I wasn’t ready to accept that they were gone yet. They should be where they are supposed to be.

“Do you have any idea how hard it was for me to get here?” I protested.
They stared at me blankly.
I rambled on about how my new caseworker did not answer my calls or emails, about how my former caseworker was so competent, and how NYRising was implemented before it was designed. I saw my words amble out the front door and down the stairs. I was standing there pointless.

I asked the receptionist to write down the new location of NYRecreate. She copied the name address and phone number off the wall. She said they moved 4 miles north on 110. She said she wanted to call the new NYRecreate office to tell them I was coming to deliver the paper. But, she asked them if she could deliver the paper instead, on her lunch hour. I was shocked. I wanted to make sure it got there myself. It was important. But, I knew that when I got to the new building, I might not be able to get into it, given NYRisings’s lack of disabled access in the two offices I have used. And, I was wearing down from the pain. So, I accepted the receptionists unexpected offer, with gratitude and puzzlement. Why is there such rampant cruelty in the world, and random acts of unexpected kindness?