Volunteers, Staff, Work to Bring Supplies to Stranded IPN Tenants

Ella Biondi climbs the stairs to her 30th floor apartment in Tribeca's IPN Complex.

CARL GLASSMAN/TRIBECA TRIB

Backpacks full of food and water. Flashlights. Batteries. And list of 40 elderly people who might need help.

That’s what volunteers started out with on Wednesday at 310 Greenwich St., which has 39 floors and—like many residential high rises Downtown without electricity—no running water or working elevators.

“Some people were perfectly content,” said Susan Silverstein of the Jewish Community Project. “But there were [also] people who were scared and in need of help. They were trying to figure out how to acclimate and needed water.”

The group of about 20 volunteers, organized by the Chabad of Tribeca and JCP,  divided up each of Tribeca’s three Independence Plaza buildings, including 310 Greenwich, into floors of 10 and set about knocking on doors. Their efforts were assisted by staff who keep lists of tenants who may need help in an emergency and had been checking on them since the storm.

“The tenants themselves have been great with the neighbors,” Deborah Dolan, Property  manager for the IPN complex said of life in the building since the storm.  “Picking up food, walking dogs, they've been terrific.”

None of IPN’s buildings sustained damage from the storm, Dolan said. IPN staff turned off the elevators before the building lost power, so they should be functioning again as soon as electricity is restored, Dolan said. 

“[Tenants] are just running out of provisions now,” Dolan said.

Until electricity is restored, there are no emergency lights working in the stairwells at IPN, making for a long and dark climb for tenants and volunteers.

“People were so grateful and so overwhelmed,” Chani Paris of the Chabad said of the experience on Wednesday. “There are some elderly people in the buildings who have no idea what was going on. They are just waiting for the lights to go back on. They have no radios or no batteries.”

On the 20th floor of one IPN building, volunteers found an 85-year-old woman dragging supplies up a dark stairwell, struggling to make it to her apartment above the 30th floor.

Another volunteer ran into a frantic woman in 310 Greenwich who said her elderly mother was on an oxygen tank that had run out the day before and she didn’t know what to do.

“She asked the volunteer if she should call 311, and he said, ‘No. Call 911 right now,’” Paris recalled. Paris said an ambulance showed up soon after to help the woman.

At many apartments, Paris said, volunteers took down requests and went back down for additional supplies before returning.

For many residents stuck inside on the second day after the storm, a friendly face and information from the outside world was often as appreciated as food and water, Paris said.

On Thursday, water ordered by Dolan was delivered and placed in the lobby of 310 Greenwich for tenants. Dolan said she is also may order some bulk food to place in the lobby as well.

Since the volunteers' visit yesterday, Paris said people with relatives at IPN have been emailing her with requests to check in on loved ones or deliver supplies. JPC and Chabad groups are heading to the East Village and Lower East Side today, but the volunteers will return to IPN buildings later Thursday afternoon.

Anyone interested in volunteering or donating should email info@chabadoftribeca.com.