PHILADELPHIA – December 21, 2012 – (RealEstateRama) — In the days following the catastrophic impact of Hurricane Sandy, HUD responded swiftly to support the federal government’s response to the widespread devastation in New York and New Jersey.
HUD’s mid-Atlantic regional office participated in the Department’s response and recovery planning, assembling a regional disaster team. The team, made up of volunteers with a wide range of skills and experience, were placed on standby for deployment. For the first round of assignments, three volunteers were deployed to New York.
Ken Freynik, a management analyst in the Homeownership Center’s Operations Division, was stationed in the FEMA/State Joint Field Office in Queens. He led a team of subject matter experts, providing guidance to HUD personnel in the Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) and coordinating with federal partners to answer questions about HUD programs.
“This was one of the best experiences in my 35 years at HUD,” said Freynick. “I truly felt that everything I was doing during those three weeks was contributing, even if in a small way, to immediately help people who were suffering. HUD staff, in particular, is in the best position to provide assistance and moral support to homeowners who are struggling with their housing needs.”
Subject matter experts were deployed to staff DRCs to provide local housing resources to Hurricane Sandy survivors. Some were assigned to work closely with federal and state partners to quickly facilitate the approval of program waivers and new initiatives designed to speed aid to those impacted by the storm.
Rose Greaux, an underwriter in the Homeownership Center’s Technical Support Branch, worked in the Brooklyn and Staten Island DRCs, giving information to first-time home buyers and helping to resolve Housing Choice Voucher issues. She has supported recovery efforts in the past, including the response to the Florida hurricanes in 2004 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005. “I volunteered because this is something I like to do,” said Greaux. “I like to help people.”
Niki Edwards, a regional public affairs officer in the Office of Field Policy and Management, worked side-by-side with FEMA’s External Affairs Team to disseminate public information on the recovery effort and to explain HUD’s role and assistance programs.
“Since I have many years of experience in response and recovery operations, I wanted to volunteer to support our Region II colleagues in any way possible,” said Edwards. “We have a significant role in the recovery and communications will be vital as we work with our federal, state, and local partners to develop a long-term rebuilding plan.”
More than 27 federal agencies joined FEMA in Hurricane Sandy preparation, response and recovery, including the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Labor and numerous volunteer agencies affiliated with the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, including the American Red Cross and many faith-based organizations.
HUD’s Mid-Atlantic Region (Region III) covers Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. The regional office is located in Philadelphia, Pa. Follow HUD Region III on Twitter @HUDMidAtlantic. For more information on HUD news relating to the Hurricane Sandy recovery, visit the website.
HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at www.hud.gov and espanol.hud.gov. You can also follow HUD on Twitter at @HUDnews or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HUD. or sign up for news alerts on HUD’s News Listserv.