Flood POLITICS Screw HHA Residents

Well folks, now we know that the war on the Zimmer  Administration is hurricane-proof.

The Mayor's multiple advisories about preparation for Hurricane Irene were IGNORED by HHA Executive Director Carmelo Garcia who failed to disseminate the most basic warnings about storing food and water to HHA residents.  Residents were also NOT warned by Garcia to evacuate first floor apartments, first a recommendation then made mandatory.  The HHA buildings have 'common rooms' which could have been utilized for emergency shelter.  Were these 'common rooms' used in emergency planning for HHA residents flooded out of their apartments?  NO.  

Here's what City Hall told residents last THURSDAY, 48 hours before the flood.
As Hurricane Irene approaches, residents are strongly urged to take precautions and consider leaving Hoboken. Governor Chris Christie has declared a state of emergency for the State of New Jersey and is urging residents to leave shore areas.

Emergency Supply Kit
It is imperative that residents prepare now in case of an emergency. This means having your own food, water, and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least three days. FEMA recommends the following items to include in a basic emergency supply kit:
• Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
• Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
• Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
• Flashlight and extra batteries
• First aid kit
• Whistle to signal for help
• Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
• Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
• Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
• Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
• Local maps
• Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger
Here are HHA residents waiting in line for food and water, in a gripping report by Claire Moses of Patch.

HHA residents waiting for water and food brought by the City

Mayor Zimmer on the ground with the National Guard, who assisted Hoboken in deliveries of food and warater to the HHA.   

The Mayor, the HPD and the HFD were on the ground, working day and night to warn residents about the severity of the incoming storm.   
  • Where was Carmelo?  
  • Where was 4th Ward City CouncilmanTimmy Occhipinti?  Was Timmy busy reading Grafix Avenger?  Looking up the big words in his dictionary?
The Star Ledger reports what others were doing on Saturday:

The police station set up cots for officers to stay overnight, as did the fire station. The mayor, along with some of her cabinet, will sleep over in City Hall a few blocks away from the city's only shelter, The Wallace School on Willow Ave. 

"I wish there were more people heeding these warnings and getting out of town," Zimmer said. "Families in buildings where the windows could break ­— their children will be exposed to that. There's 100-mph winds."

And then there is Zimmer, who has been going door-to-door throughout the day to urge the residents of Hoboken to leave their homes and come here. If the shelter becomes full, they will transport people to the landlocked Union City, where most of Hoboken's evacuated senior citizens were sent.

If the shelter in Hoboken floods, which is possible, those inhabitants will be shipped to Union City as well.

Outside, the charcoal sky dimmed further as the rain picked up around 6 p.m.

Zimmer and her crew piled into a green Jeep Wrangler to head back to the "Command Post" at City Hall.

"Evacuate or come to a shelter," she said. "I'm trying to get that word out."
Here's what HHA Executive Director Carmelo Garcia told Patch:
Executive Director of the Housing Authority Carmelo Garcia said in a phone call on Sunday he did not tell people to evacuate their apartments. For ground floor apartments, he said, drains were unplugged to try and prevent flooding.
Why did Carmelo ignore City Hall?  On Saturday, evacuation of first-floor dwellings became MANDATORY.
  • Why didn't Carmelo "TELL" residents to seek shelter at Wallace school?  
  • Why didn't Carmelo "TELL" his residents to stock water and non-perishable food in case of a power outage?
  • Why didn't Carmelo order the HHA's 'common rooms' to shelter residents fleeing flooded apartments?
A question asked by at least one HHA resident, as reported in Patch:
What prevailed mostly on early Sunday afternoon, was a sense of being isolated in an area of town nobody can get to, residents said. Locked inside an area with streets that are unable to cross, without power, most residents said they weren't sure what to do. 

HHA resident Dynasty Steed, 24, said she would have liked to have a shelter in one of the common rooms of the Housing Authority. Steed's 8-year-old daughter Alyssa, said she was scared when the lights went out around 4 a.m. on Sunday, which woke her up.
 And WHERE was Councilman Tim Occhipinti, reliable VBM  harvester at the HHA?

MIA as reported on Patch:
Councilman Tim Occhipinti, who represents the area in and around the Housing Authority, made the flooding problem one of his main campaign issues.

On Sunday afternoon, agitated because of the situation, longtime HHA resident Margie Biart wondered where the councilman was during the storm. "I haven't heard from him," Biart said. "He should have been here with us."

Occhipinti did not return multiple attempts for comment.


Public officials willfully ignore the City's  advice, its mandatory emergency procedure, forcing HHA residents to be REACTIVE than PROACTIVE, at their own expense... and in the end it's City Hall who comes to their aid.

But the situation didn't have to be DESPERATE, if the guardians of the HHA and 4th Ward weren't playing politics with the safety of their constituents.

How disgusting.

National Guard assists City Hall at the HHA
Emergnecy provisions
HHA residents wade through sewage
credit for all photos: Claire Moses of Patch

GA gives PROPS to Claire Moses for her fine report.

(Update 11:45 am)
A GA reader made these fine points:
I think one point that many more affluent people miss about many folks in the HHA: they don't read the blogs nor check up on the city website(s) as often as we do. They need paper in their hands, a cell phone call, or a bullhorn to provide emergency instructions.

This is also where Carmelo failed.

I saw that Horsey got some guff that EVERYONE in town was informed about preparing for the storm, so the HHA folks should have had more of a clue - valid point. But, they were informed on land lines by City Hall (I don't think many have land lines in the HHA) and doubt they access the internet as much as we do.

Church Towers bottom floors were evacuated, but not the HHA? WTF?!!


  1. Is there anything that prevents the city council from removing Carmelo Garcia from his HHA position, based on this performance?

  2. What a great idea!!! Carmelo Garcia seems to skate by on his "charm". He either misses School Board meetings altogether or leaves early. I've heard people say that "Everybody loves Carmelo!" When I ask why, they have nothing to say other than "He's Carmelo."

    Where were the Callichio Clowns yesterday? Where was Perry Belfiore? All the windbags that talk the talk but can't walk the walk were MIA yesterday. Quelle surprise!

  3. if i recall correctly, "charm" and 'he's a nice guy" didn't do much for nino in the end...

  4. Interesting how the HHA website home page proudly announces "...our new Web site. The Hoboken Housing Authority is finally entering the 21st century." Judging from the posting for the Aug. 2 BBQ still on the page, obviously this website is window dressing only. There are any number of places where dynamic information could have been made to residents: notices in the lobbies, elevators and communal areas, on the "website", and via information disseminated by employees on premises to residents. It is unconscionable that Mr. Garcia would convey a sense of safety to residents by letting them think that unplugging drains would keep them safe instead of helping to inform of the mandatory ground floor evacuation.


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