From left, Nancy Ortiz, Jeanetee Burnette and Lisa Andujar sort clothes donated by Vladeck Houses residents for Katrina relief.
Vladeck Houses helps in Katrina relief
By Lincoln Anderson
Remembering their own difficult experiences after 9/11, tenants of the Lower East Sides Vladeck Houses have been pitching in to help the Hurricane Katrina refugees in their hour of need.
A few days after the hurricane and devastating levee breeches in New Orleans, Nancy Ortiz, tenants association president for the Madison St. public housing development, hatched the idea of collecting supplies for the residents displaced by the disaster. On Aug. 30, she wrote up a letter to Vladeck residents, the next day she posted it around the area and the day after that they were open and accepting contributions at the tenants association room. In a weeks time, the room was overflowing with supplies to send down South for relief.
Were getting clothes, Pampers, shampoo, soap, blankets, sheets, toys for the kids the majority is food hand lotion, things thatll make you feel a little better, said Ortiz, speaking last Thursday. We just did about 50 boxes last night and theres still stuff coming. I figured it wouldnt be busy on Labor Day, but it worked out people were clearing out their closets around this time of year, she said.
They separated the donated clothes into boxes for infants, boys and girls and men and women.
Ortiz hooked up with a friend in the Bronx who was able to get an 18-wheel tractor-trailer. Pickup at Vladeck was slated for last Friday night or Saturday morning, with additional pickups to be made in the Bronx and Harlem. Three volunteer drivers with commercial licenses, one from Vladeck, were to drive the rig the 40 hours to Houston, Tex., where many of the refugees were sent.
Its going straight to the dome, Ortiz said, referring to the Astrodome.
However, it was also possible the truck would drop off at some other area where the refugees have been relocated, Ortiz said.
Ortiz, who has been the Vladeck tenant leader about a year, said the residents can relate to what the Gulf Coast storm and flood victims are going through.
Were just trying to work as hard as we can to get these things to the people that need it, Ortiz said. We understand from 9/11 when we were under martial law here. If you didnt have ID, you werent allowed in the neighborhood. We had no deliveries. We had no phone I didnt get my phone back until December. People didnt have cars. To get milk you had to drive Uptown.