Earlier this week, photographer Grant Ellis documented residents of the Baruch Houses on the Lower East Side as they evacuated pre-Hurricane Sandy. A few days later, he returned to see how the public housing residents who'd stayed behind had fared.
Ellis says the housing authority and volunteers were on the premises delivering food and water to residents, who had no water, heat or electricity, and that conditions at the projects were difficult. "These workers/volunteers mostly used cell phone lights to move through the blacked out, piss smelling halls to deliver food," Ellis told us. "I also heard stories of violence and rape because there wasn't any lights."
Public housing residents in Zone A were ordered to evacuate, but those who did not leave have since been trapped by Sandy. Places like Red Hook and Coney Island Houses in Brooklyn, as well as Lower East Side houses such as the Baruch and Vladek Houses have been dark and powerless. Crime and looting has been a problem, and many residents say the past week has been marked by fear.
"When you walk in the building, you don't know what's waiting for you," a young Vladeck Houses resident told the Times. Other residents say the storm has helped bring her building together. "There's a sense of community," Darryl MacCullum, who lives at the Jacob Riis Houses in Alphabet City, told the Times. "Neighbors I usually don't talk to, I talk to now."
As Ellis left the Baruch Houses last night, power was being restored to Lower Manhattan. "Some people celebrated," he said.