TOTTENVILLE — They fly into disaster areas, but flee from raindrops.
FEMA disaster recovery centers in Hurricane Sandy-ravaged sections of the city that were supposed to provide shelter, food and assistance to hurricane victims went MIA Wednesday morning, posting signs saying that they were closed due to the approaching Nor’easter.
The shuttering of the assistance centers, as well as city food distribution centers come even as many of those still reeling from the monster storm were not told that they had to leave the battered areas.
On Tuesday, Mayor Bloomberg said that residents in the low-lying portions of Staten Island and the Rockaways were advised to leave ahead of the nor’easter, which could hit the city with 60 mph gusts and several inches of rain Wednesday afternoon, but that the evacuation was not mandatory like the one issued for all of Zone A ahead of Sandy.
The move led residents of the storm-ravaged areas fuming.
“The storm is coming. We don’t know how hard it’s going to hit us,” said Jenny Cartagena, 46, who found the FEMA center in Coney Island closed Wednesday. “I need some help now.”
The city’s food distribution centers, a lifeline for the thousands left without power, heat and water for more than a week, would only be operating until noon Wednesday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced.
In Staten Island, a printed paper sign taped to the front door of on the center at 6581 Hylan Blvd. at 10:30 a.m. read “FEMA Center Closed Due to Weather.”
The front doors of the disaster recovery center, which is housed inside the Mount Lorretto Catholic Youth Organization, were unlocked, but there was no staff anywhere in sight for at least a half an hour.
And a set of buses which served as a pair of warming centers at the site for the past several days were missing, according to non-FEMA volunteers who continued to hand out supplies from a nearby building despite the storm.
Volunteers at a nearby donation distribution center said the buses vanished on Wednesday.
“FEMA packed up and left,” said Louis Giraldi, 47, a volunteer handing out cleaning supplies to victims.
“We don’t know where they are, so there’s nothing here but us.”
The site is listed on FEMA’s list of NYC recovery centers, and was supposed to be open from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday. The site was also included in the city’s list of warming facilities supposed to open at 9 a.m. on Wednesday at the site.
A FEMA R/V also sat empty next to the recovery center.