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1 million meals to be offered in NYC

Nov. 2, 2012 at 12:38 AM   |   Comments

NEW YORK, Nov. 2 (UPI) -- More than 1 million meals are going to be offered along with bottled water in parts of New York City flooded or without power, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

"After days without power, the most immediate need for many New Yorkers is food and water and the state is working aggressively to address this need," Cuomo said in a statement. "The first plane into JFK International Airport Thursday morning was from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, carrying supplies and personnel we requested."

Cuomo had requested the meals from President Barack Obama Wednesday. The National Guard with FEMA will deliver 1 million meals and bottled water to New Yorkers in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy -- Lower Manhattan, affected areas in Brooklyn and Queens, including the Rockaways.

The National Guard will assist with the delivery of approximately 30 tractor-trailers of food and water by going door-to-door to New Yorkers who have been without power and electricity since Hurricane Sandy hit the state. The National Guard and FEMA officials also will check the wellness and needs of individuals in these areas to ensure residents are safe, Cuomo said.

The New York State Department of Homeland Security, FEMA and the National Guard, along with city and non-profit partners, worked through the night to transport the meals so they could be staged to be delivered throughout the region Thursday.

"There were, for example, some 400 members of the National Guard and 150 New York City Service volunteers involved in this effort by going door-to-door taking meals to homebound residents," New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a news conference. "Some people are up in high buildings, no elevator, they're elderly and they would have a real problem in coming down to the ground. Our problems are making sure they know there's food available. We do that by knocking on the door and sticking fliers underneath, but also then we've got to get the food to them and we do that the old fashioned way: we pick it up and walk up the stairs and hand it to them."

Cuomo said a series of non-profit groups are assisting in the food distribution including the National Urban League, the Coalition Against Hunger, Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, the Bowery Residents' Committee, the Grand Street Settlement, the Henry Street Settlement, Friends of Firefighters, Ocean Bay Community Development Corp., Project Hospitality, Jewish Community Council of Greater Coney Island and the Salvation Army.

Bloomberg said the city would also distribute bottles of water and pre-prepared meals at staging areas throughout the city, especially hard-hit areas such as the south shore of Staten Island, Coney Island, Chinatown and the Rockaways. New Yorkers should call 311 to find food distribution locations or visit NYC.gov -- if they have access, Bloomberg said.

"We've given out a half-million flyers in English, Spanish and Chinese in the areas and elected officials standing will also help us get the word out in the communities," the mayor said.

In addition, the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief said all large-capacity mobile kitchens in the fleet east of the Rocky Mountains have been asked to mobilize in response to Hurricane Sandy. The goal is to begin preparing a minimum of 400,000 meals a day by next Monday, said Fritz Wilson, executive director of the North American Mission Board Disaster Relief.

"As we worked through the planning and continued to receive reports about the need, the conviction came on me that Southern Baptists need to step out in faith and mobilize now," Wilson said.

During the height of their response to Hurricane Katrina, the Southern Baptist volunteers prepared 425,000 meals per day.

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers from Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina and South Carolina were serving in New York and New Jersey, along with volunteers from the affected states Thursday.

The New York Baptist convention's kitchen was on its way to Staten Island -- Staten Island is a high priority -- where volunteers will begin serving meals Friday, said Eddie Blackmon, response coordinator of the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief -- North American Mission Board.

Area response commander Mark Gauthier, mobilization director for the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia, said the next wave is on the road now from Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and South Carolina.

"They will be serving meals on Saturday. Then units will arrive ready to cook on Sunday. Another group will be ready to serve on Monday," Gauthier said.

In addition, Bloomberg said AT&T would bring what they call pods -- a truck with a satellite connection and a WiFi connection or a cell connection from the top of the truck -- to the food distribution sites.

"If you have AT&T on your cell phone you'll be able to walk over and get your phone service from places where the cell towers are no longer working" Bloomberg said. "The truck will also help you in charging your phones, another problem when we don't have electricity."

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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