Mission & History

MISSION STATEMENT

The Lower East Side Long Term Recovery Group (the LES LTRG) is a coalition of community groups and institutions that will cooperatively coordinate our response, resources, preparedness planning and training in response to Hurricane Sandy and in the event of future disasters. Our work will focus on Manhattan’s Community Board 3 area and the immediately adjacent neighborhoods that our groups may serve.

Future disasters may be events that disrupt/dislocate residents, disrupt power, communications, transportation, cause shortages in basic goods and services, threaten life and/or the community’s built environment.

The LES LTRG is inclusive and open to community groups, organizations, and institutions that wish to be actively involved in responding and preparing collaboratively.

As such, the Coalition will address the following to ensure that even the most vulnerable in the community are prepared, trained for and recover from disaster.

  1. To formulate, coordinate and provide for the dissemination of information related to Disaster Response and Preparedness that serves both residential and institutional use, collectively serving the welfare of the wider community.
  2. To formulate, coordinate and provide for a long-term recovery and mitigation in response to Sandy or future disasters, which serves both residential and institutional use, collectively serving the welfare of the wider community.
  3. To advocate for and thereby assure additional long-term assistance in the wake of Sandy or future disasters to the most vulnerable affected populations who are eligible for basic needs, referrals, and other additional needs that the LES LTRG might advocate as necessary.

HISTORY

It all began when Superstorm Sandy made its way to New York and the Lower East Side. With the loss of power, water, communications and heat, residents, businesses and organizations across Lower East Side neighborhoods turned to one another to find a way through the disaster. From this “boots on the ground” experience of so many groups responding to the needs of neighbors and neighborhoods, the Long Term Recovery Group was born. Our first meeting took place March 11, 2013 hosted at the Chinese-American Planning Council.

Volunteers gather outside GOLES offices on Avenue B in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

Since that time, the Lower East Side Long Term Recovery Group (LES LTRG) has grown into a coalition of over 25 community groups and institutions. Our commitment to the neighborhoods and one another is that we will work to cooperatively coordinate our response, resources, preparedness, planning and training not only in relation to Sandy and its aftermath but in future disaster situations as well.  Our Executive Committee and the full coalition meet once per month.

With a focus on Manhattan’s Community Board 3 area and the immediately adjacent neighborhoods that our groups may serve, the LTRG has recently taken on the name: LESReady! We work to ready our selves, our organizations and our neighborhoods for advocacy, future disasters and to sustain the response and rebuilding needed as a result of Sandy.

LES Ready! is inclusive and open to community groups, organizations, and institutions that want to be actively involved in planning, advocacy and responding to disaster related issues. We seek to ensure that all stakeholders, especially the most vulnerable in the community are prepared, trained for and recover from disaster.

Community members review an LESReady! resource map at a town hall, March 2015.

The coalition is open to a variety of groups including: nonprofits, tenant organizations, small businesses, HDFCs, governmental agencies, political leaders, and national groups. Membership can be voting or non-voting. All groups are asked to identify what resources they bring to support the common effort.

LESReady! has launched this website and a Facebook and Twitter page to provide information for members and the general public on Sandy on disaster preparedness and community resources.

LESReady! demonstrates the resilience of the Lower East Side. Together we make a way when challenges arise. Together we help rebuild and recover. Together we advocate for resources and public policy that makes the Lower East Side, where we live and work, safer now and in the future.

TIMELINE of ACCOMPLISHMENTS

2013

  • LESReady! is formed in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, as service providers and community-based organizations recognize the need for greater collaboration pre-, during, and post-disaster. Forty voting and non-voting members are recruited. Mission, bylaws, and coalition priorities are established.
  • Disaster preparedness trainings are conducted throughout the Lower East Side.
  • LESReady! and The LoDown publish a series of disaster preparedness articles to in the lead-up to Sandy’s one-year anniversary.
  • Over 700 people attend LESReady’s Sandy 1-Year Anniversary Event at the East River.

2014

  • LESReady! launches its website and releases printed brochures and other materials, including the report Getting LES Ready: Learning from Hurricane Sandy to Create a Community-Based Disaster Plan for the Future.
  • Community mapping project is begun; disaster centers, hubs, and information centers are identified.
  • LESReady’s Interim Community Disaster Plan is released and shared with network members.
  • Preparedness trainings continue to be held, including Citizen Preparedness events in collaboration with the Governor’s office. Hundreds of residents receive emergency preparedness education and Go Bags.
  • LESReady! coordinates community engagement meetings for Rebuild by Design, winning $335 million for flood protection on the LES.
  • The coalition works with the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery’s NY Rising program, shaping $25 million worth of funding priorities.

2015

  • The coalition purchases LESReady! vests and emergency radios. Request for an FCC radio license is submitted.
  • Community Board 3 Waterfront Task Force is established, to which LESReady! members are appointed.
  • Second phase of outreach and engagement for the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project begins.
  • The 2nd Avenue Explosion destroys a residential building, and the subsequent fire burns down three others, leaving 2 dead and 19 wounded. LESReady! responds, providing case management and grants to 120 affected residents.
  • Newspaper printouts of resource map and coalition findings are printed in three languages and distributed to 11,000 community members.
  • Funding is secured from the New York Community Trust and Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery to support a full-time LESReady! Coordinator and resiliency staff.

2016

  • Five member organizations begin providing storm recovery and resiliency services to the community under the NY Rising program.
  • FCC license for emergency radio communications is approved, and member organizations receive emergency radio training.
  • Outreach and community engagement for ESCR continues; LESReady! begins coordinating outreach efforts for the Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency Project (LMCR).
  • Member organizations receive pass-through grants to fund small-scale, high-impact resiliency projects. A second year of renewed funding from the New York Community Trust is secured.
  • Member organization WiFi-NY navigates Beyond the Grid, a resilient community microgrid project, through phase II of the NYSERDA NY Prize competition.
  • 400 community members attend Sandyween at Pier 42, a Halloween-themed Superstorm Sandy anniversary event.

2017

  • Member organizations and Resiliency staff begin making final revisions to Community Disaster Plan.
  • LESReady’s Memorandum of Understanding is edited to better capture member organizations’ resource capacity; outreach to new prospective members, including houses of worship, begins.
  • Emergency radio antenna is installed on the roof of Village East Towers co-op, allowing members to communicate over a 50-mile radius when phone lines and internet are down.
  • LMCR outreach and community engagement continues.
  • 6 member organizations receive pass-through grants to undertake community resiliency and disaster preparedness projects.
  • LESReady! coordinates donations to Puerto Rico in the wake of the 2017 hurricane season, collecting resources at our 5-year Sandy anniversary event.
  • The coalition begins meeting with NYC agencies to explore concrete strategies for post-disaster collaboration.

2018

  • Third and final year of renewed funding from the New York Community Trust is secured.
  • LESReady! member organizations conduct community mapping exercise to update resource map.
  • Disaster preparedness trainings to coalition and community members continue.
  • Community-wide disaster simulation exercise is planned.

5 YEARS OF LESREADY! BY THE NUMBERS

  • 20,000 residents reached through community events, canvassing, social media, workshops, etc.
  • 3,000 Go Bags collectively distributed.
  • 5,000 community members collectively trained in disaster preparedness techniques.
  • 1 Superstorm Sandy anniversary event held every year.
  • More than $700 million secured for coastal flood protection.
  • More than $500 million secured for Sandy repairs to NYCHA properties.