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LGBT groups recover from Hurricane Sandy
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

This article shared 2549 times since Wed Nov 7, 2012
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As the East Coast (particularly New York and New Jersey) recovers from the damage that Hurricane Sandy recently caused, a few LGBT and HIV/AIDS organizations provided updates to Windy City Times (through personal emails or statements) about how things are:

—Rea Carey, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force: "Our thoughts are with those who have been affected by the storm and are trying to recover. We want to let you know that our New York Task Force offices in lower Manhattan—one of the hardest hit areas—will be closed for at least the rest of this week due to power outages, flooding in the building and no subway service.

"Some of our staff are able to work from home or remotely and since our email, data and phones are all based out of our main DC office, we are operational. However, some of our folks are focused on cleaning up and staying safe. If you are trying to reach one of our New York-based staff members and are unable to, you can also call our main number (202-393-5177) for a directory of options. Again, our hearts are with those who have experienced losses and hardship from this storm.

—Vanessa Bowling, Equality Maryland: "Luckily, Sandy didn't hit Maryland as hard as it did other states. I would ask that readers help New Jersey and New York as much as they can. It will take a while to get them fully operational again, and the pictures I am seeing are devastating."

—Carisa Cunningham of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), based in Boston: "We are actually doing fine. We closed for one day (Monday) because both the governor and the mayor asked businesses to close, and because the [Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority] shut down operations during the day. A few staff members are without power at home, but we realize that others—especially those in New York and New Jersey—have real hardships to deal with.

—Jessica Stern, International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission: "From our global headquarters in New York City, I am relieved to report that the staff of the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) is safe and sound after Hurricane Sandy swept through the Caribbean and Northeastern United States this week.

"IGLHRC's lower Manhattan office is temporarily closed as a result of flooding, but that hasn't stopped us from working. We are used to crackling phone lines, fleeting internet connections, and dropped Skype calls with our staff in regional offices and with LGBT activists and organizations worldwide. With IGLHRC staff on five continents—spanning 15 time zones—we've been in constant contact throughout the week. Whatever the storm, natural or political, the day-to-day work of IGLHRC continues."

—Kevin Cathcart, Lambda Legal: "Our thoughts are with all of those who have been affected by Hurricane Sandy. With our New York offices in lower Manhattan, we have been unable to return to the building and much of our digital infrastructure (emails, etc.) has been disrupted. If you have called our National Headquarters in New York and have received a busy signal, please consider reaching out to the regional office closest to your home [Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles]."

—Kelly Simon of the National LGBT Bar Association: "While our offices have been closed for the past two days (most of Washington, D.C. was shut down), everyone is fine here at the LGBT Bar offices. The damage around the city is minimal compared to what our friends up north experienced. Oddly, we didn't even lose power—just some minor tree damage. Right now we're just sending thoughts and prayers up to our friends in New Jersey and New York."

—Sharon Lettman-Hicks, National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC): The NBJC team has returned safely to our office in Washington, D.C. We have not let the storm slow our mobilization efforts as Election Day quickly approaches. Our hearts and prayers go out to the individuals and families also affected by the hurricane."

—Dan Rafter, Human Rights Campaign: "HRC staff are doing well—we didn't bear the brunt of the storm here in D.C.—but we are keeping all of those impacted in our thoughts and prayers, particularly those in the devastated communities in New Jersey and New York. We're encouraging our members to donate to Red Cross relief efforts if they can."

In addition, the Washington Blade reported that Hurricane Sandy destroyed several New York City-based LGBT organizations.

Carl Siciliano, executive director of the Ali Forney Center (a facility for LGBT youth), said that the storm left up to four feet of water from the nearby Hudson River in the facility on West 22nd Street in Manhattan's West Chelsea neighborhood. The water has since receded, but Siciliano said the storm surge "decimated" the drop-in center.

"Everything is destroyed—all of the electricity in the place, the floors, the computers, the laptops, the phones, files, all the furniture," he said. "Everything is just destroyed. The refrigerator was floating and knocked over, all the food was out. The space is uninhabitable."

Sandy also forced the Empire State Pride Agenda, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and other LGBT advocacy groups to close their New York offices because of a lack of electricity and, in some cases, flooding.

Gay City News reported that its offices have been temporarily relocated to 1 MetroTech Center North in Brooklyn because flood waters inundated its Canal Street offices.

However, neither the LGBT Community Center in Greenwich Village or the Gay Men's Health Crisis' new offices on West 33rd Street on the West Side of Manhattan suffered any damage from the superstorm.

Also, New York City-based GMHC (Gay Men's Health Crisis) cancelled its Fashion Forward 2012 event. A statement read, "Given the ongoing immediate challenges faced by our clients, GMHC has decided to cancel our annual fundraiser, Fashion Forward, and focus on our core mission, providing direct support to people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS."

This article shared 2549 times since Wed Nov 7, 2012
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