Councilwoman Won reflects on Hurricane Ida anniversary as governor honors Queens heroes

Hurricane Ida
Gov. Kathy Hochul joins Queens elected officials to honor seven heroes who came to the aid of their neighbors in the borough. (Courtesy of governor’s office)

Councilwoman Julie Won delivered remarks at a vigil on Diversity Plaza in Jackson Heights Thursday evening, Sept. 1, mourning the lives lost one year earlier when the remnants of Hurricane Ida devastated neighborhoods in her district, including Woodside, Sunnyside, Long Island City and Astoria.

Earlier in the day, Won toured the Woodside Houses with NYCHA management.

“Our Woodside Houses neighbors had to live without heat and hot water for a whole year after Hurricane Ida flooded the outdated heating plant,” Won said. “Their senior center got completely flooded and every piece of furniture was discarded because it was contaminated by sewage. Queensbridge Houses has experienced multiple water main breaks along Vernon Boulevard leading to many vehicles being totaled. Our residents have no protections. FEMA and the comptroller have denied their claims, and flood insurance coverage does not exist for New York residents, and Queens, because this is not a flood zone.”

Councilwoman Julie Won remembers the devastation the remnants of Hurricane Ida caused one year after flooding devastated many communities in her district. (Courtesy of Won’s office)

Won called on the American Red Cross, FEMA, NYC Emergency Management and NYC Department of Environmental Protection to provide relief to her community for the damage that was caused by the storm.

Won’s colleagues in government marked the one-year anniversary of the deadly storm with Gov. Kathy Hochul at Elmcor Youth & Adult Activities in Corona, where she honored seven Queens individuals for their heroic actions in the aftermath of the storm.

“One year ago today, thousands of Queens residents from Flushing to Hollis and beyond saw their lives change in an instant,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richard said. “But from the scenes of devastation across Queens came stories of neighbors helping neighbors — and even complete strangers stepping up to help clothe and feed families who lost so much. Today, we honor those who lost their lives during this catastrophe, and we honor all those heroes who lent a hand in one of our borough’s times of greatest need.”

Elmcor Executive Director Saeeda Dunston was one of the seven heroes.

“Our community has been hit severely with COVID, overdose and then came Ida,” Dunston said. “One year after the storm we remember those who lost their lives, homes and stability. One of our Older Adult Centers was flooded and destroyed which displaced our participants for 10 months. We’re happy to say we are back open today. Elmcor staff stepped up as they have for decades and will continue to work for the people.”

Neighborhood Housing Services of Queens CDC executive director Yoselin Genao Estrella was also honored.

“We are grateful to our neighbors for allowing us to serve them in their time of need. They have shown us that no storm nor pandemic can stop Queens residents from moving forward,” she said. “Since the day after the hurricane, NHS staff knocked on doors of affected neighborhoods to ensure that individuals and families were safe and accessing relief services. The road to recovery is a long one and we look forward to continuing working in partnership to bring more sustainable, pragmatic, dignified resilient programs and investments in Queens.”

Hochul also honored First Baptist Church Pastor Rev. Patrick Young, Queens Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Grech Laborers Local 79 organizer Tafadar Sourove and Maynel “Junior” Moreno and Jenniffer Moreno.

“Ida stole so much from New Yorkers but worst of all it stole the lives of 18 New Yorkers, 11 in Queens alone,” Hochul said. “I watched people put aside their differences, roll up their sleeves, come together, step up to help their neighbors and friends and strangers. We pause to honor their heroism and to just say thank you, thank you for being there for all of us. For in the worst of times you showed us the best of humanity and indeed the very best of New York.”