Lew Fidler and Alan Maisel sue city to get Hurricane Sandy relief

Cold shoulder of Canarsie residents ‘unfathomable’

Brooklyn Daily
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The city didn’t bother to include Sandy-busted Canarsie on its list of battered neighborhoods when applying for federal food aid — and it can’t even explain why — claim infuriated area pols who slapped City Hall with a lawsuit because of the slight.

Councilman Lew Fidler (D–Canarsie-Flatlands) and Assemblyman Alan Maisel (D–Canarsie) said their hard-hit constituents weren’t eligible for a food relief program for low-income families and households with more than $100 worth of damage because the city appeared to have selected the communities randomly — making only residents of Coney Island, Red Hook, and parts of Gerritsen Beach eligible for the benefits.

“The decision to exclude Canarsie is unfathomab­le,” said Fidler, who fumed the region was damaged enough for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to erect a recovery facility there after the super storm. “If FEMA saw fit to establish a disaster relief center in the heart of the neighborhood, how can [the city] even suggest that it does not qualify?”

Fidler said Human Resource Administration Commissioner Robert Doar couldn’t explain to him why his agency cold-shouldered Canarsie, where power outages, tidal surges, and property damage made parts of the area a virtual ghost town.

“He was completely unable to articulate any rationale for the exclusion of the community which was extremely hard hit,” said the councilman.

The short-shrift was out of line with past relief measures, according to the pair’s Legal Aid attorney Ellen Davidson, who said city dwellers successfully applied for the same program after 9-11, and about half of New Jersey residents in nearly two dozen codes and all of Westchester County qualified for it after Sandy.

“The program in New York, for some reason, was only 10 full zip codes and two partial zip codes,” Davidson added.

Those zip codes did not include Canarsie.

The city may have to reapply for the emergency help, depending upon the success of the lawsuit, filed on Jan. 9.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at or by calling (718) 260-4514.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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