No Warming Centers This Winter
Between Monday and Tuesday, January 6th and 7th, temperatures rose to a spring-like 53 degrees and dropped to a chilling 5 above zero in Rockaway and Broad Channel.
With the extreme cold gripping a large portion of the country, some residents may be considering what their emergency options may be to stay warm with months of winter and changeable weather still ahead.
“Unfortunately the City does not have any warming centers at this time,” reported an operator at the City’s 311 information line.
A spokesperson for the New York City Office of Emergency Management also confirmed that, “there are no plans to open warming centers.”
“We are monitoring 311 heat complaints and doubling our outreach,” he added.
On the heating center issue, OEM’s spokesman conceded that the best place for people is in their own home.
“I think people need to heed the warnings,” about staying indoors in extremely cold conditions, he said.
“If your apartment does not have heat or hot water,” he said, “call 311 directly” so the City could immediately follow up on the complaint.
“If there is an emergency, you should call 911,” he advised. From there you will be directed to a shelter” and transported if necessary.
Newly inaugurated Mayor Bill de Blasio though has reinstituted a Code Blue Policy of guaranteeing shelter for all families and children when temperatures drop below 32 degrees. This provision had been dropped by the Bloomberg administration.
Closer to home, Community Board 14’s District Manager Jonathan Gaska said, “People can call the Community Board if they have a problem with 311.”
He also said that if needed people “can always go to a public library or any government building” to get relief from the cold.”
“Houses of worship are also an option,” Gaska stated, as many open their doors to provide refuge for those seeking to warm up.
The frigid issue was all too real for residents of the Hammel Houses on Rockaway
Beach Boulevard and Beach 85th Street. On the morning of Friday, January 3rd, the heating system failed leaving the buildings without heat for a few hours. Councilman Donovan Richards was in touch with tenants and NYCHA (NYC Housing Authority) until heat came back on around by 12:45 p.m.
NYCHA advises that customers may contact their Customer Contact Center 24 hours a day, every day, to report heating and other issues at 718-707-7771.
Via Twitter NYCHA also announced “We will have additional teams of heating, plumbers and electricians to respond to heat/hot water outages.”