2012-12-07 / Letters

Dayton HPD Horror

Dear Editor,

The purpose of this letter is to report an activity which I consider to be unconscionable as well as grossly unfair and unethical concerning the destruction and the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy (October 29th to 30th) being perpetrated by the management of my dwelling.

I live in a middle income co-op complex located on Rockaway Beach in Queens, New York called Dayton Towers. During the month of November, my apartment and the rest of the co-op complex were not livable due to the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. I had no electricity and heat. There was water in the entire lobby of my building and partly up the staircase to the first floor. The other buildings in the complex had similar damage. The parking lot was in shambles. All the parked cars were seriously damaged and not useable.

Just before the storm arrived, I moved my car from the parking lot to a nearby street parking spot. Shortly after that, another car moved into my parking spot and stayed there. In fact, as of the writing of this letter, my parking spot, for which I pay a monthly payment, is still occupied by that other car.

After experiencing the actual storm and its aftermath for about four days in my apartment, on the third day after the storm I went down to the lobby which was in complete darkness, but there was light in the laundry room where co-op manager Mr. Nardo and his assistant were sitting. I greeted them, and then I made a comment to his assistant about our rent for November. She responded, oh, there is no maintenance to pay now or something to that effect. In the laundry room where Mr. Nardo and his assistant were, there were blankets and other items in the laundry room for the shareholders to take. But, how could the co-op owners access these items if they were elderly, sick, and stuck in their apartments and no one made contact to see if they were alright? In fact, there were tenants just like me who were stuck in their apartments in the cold and darkness, and had no clue there were blankets and some food supplies being given out in the laundry room. For the days I remained at the co-op the conditions were very poor. It was freezing cold and I could not tolerate the cold any longer, so I left my apartment and Rockaway Beach as soon as I was able to with the limited public transportation that existed.

I stayed with a friend for about 1 ½ weeks, and then returned to my apartment. There was still no heat, light or electricity for about another week or more. However, there were generator lights that lit up the lobby, but the stairway to access my apartment was still in darkness. After I returned home I discovered many senior citizens were stuck in their apartments, for example, my next door neighbor to whom I gave food and blankets, in order to keep her warm. She appeared to be very afraid and did not leave her apartment at all. Also, I proceeded to prepare some food for her because she told me she was hungry. Eventually, there were postings put on the wall in the laundry room for people to contact the different agencies for help, such as FEMA. My question is how do we contact services if we had no telephone service? Therefore it was impossible to contact family members as well as FEMA! It was several days before tenants could charge their cell phones in the laundry room and make calls to their family members and to the various services.

I realize Mr. Nardo and staff were very busy but, as the days passed there was no communication to the coop owners from management. By word of mouth from another shareholder I was told Mr. Nardo and staff have been relocated to a trailer in the parking lot behind the building at 8000 Shore Front Parkway. Who knew? In fact, I and a number of other tenants tried to make contact with Mr. Nardo or any of the board members. We called the number that was the designated office number, but got a recording the phone is out of service. On November 27, 2012, almost a month after Hurricane Sandy, I received a memo under my apartment door giving new phone numbers to call Dayton Tower’s management. When I called the new number it rang and a voice message said to leave a message and your call would be returned. I made numerous calls and left numerous messages. My calls were never returned and eventually the answering machine was full to capacity and would not accept any more messages. Therefore, I still had no way of contacting the co-op management or any of the board members.

Recently, I received my monthly maintenance/rent statement. There was no monthly statement sent to us for November. The statement for December contained both November and December’s maintenance/rent, and to my uttermost surprise the cooperative owners were charged a full month’s rent for November when the co-op complex was not livable during most of that month. When I and the other shareholder went to the office or called the office to speak with Mr. Nardo we were approached by the staff who told us gibberish and we were unable to get through to see or speak to Mr. Nardo to complain about this grossly unfair and irresponsible rent statement because he was unavailable.

Because Mr. Nardo has been unavailable I called HPD to complain to them. I was told that they felt the rent statement was okay because the co-op needs the money to pay their bills.

In my view, HPD appears to be divorced from reality. The Sandy crisis also happened to the tenants, not only to the co-op. Many of the tenants have modest incomes. They lost property, were grossly inconvenienced living under substandard conditions while freezing. Many of them lost their cars and were unable to go to work, assuming that their places of employment were not destroyed by the hurricane, and many shareholders lost several days or weeks of pay for not being able to get to work.

If the co-op needs money to pay their bills, as HPD put it, then the co-op needs to contact FEMA, like the rest of us did.

YVONNE WARD

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