The floodwaters from Hurricane Sandy have long since receded, but the state court administration is still mopping up the damage and assisting the dozens of employees who lost their homes or belongings to the forces of nature.
At the Office of Court Administration's central office on Beaver Street in Lower Manhattan, generators are still providing electricity but nearly all employees are back at their desks, according to Ronald Younkins, director of operations. Younkins said a few employees are still working at remote locations as the landlord, Piedmont Realty, replaces building systems destroyed by the storm.
The Red Hook Community Justice Center in Brooklyn resumed normal operations just last week, Younkins said.
Meanwhile, Younkins said, about 100 court personnel and their families are still displaced from homes that were severely damaged or destroyed.
"They have had to replace building systems, flooring, electrical and sheetrock," Younkins said. "They are living with relatives, but the vast majority are back at their jobs."
Younkins said the court system has a continuing supply drive underway to provide whatever employees need and is collecting money for the reactivated Court Families Assistance Fund (http://www.nylj.com/nylawyer/adgifs/decisions/110912fund.pdf).
So far, the fund, which also was activated after Sept. 11, 2001 and in the wake of the 2005 Hurricane Katrina, has collected about $70,000 from more than 300 contributors, including a $25,000 donation from the New York City Municipal Credit Union, Younkins said (NYLJ, Nov. 9).
Younkins said the money will be distributed in January. Contributions can be made online (https://npo1.networkforgood.org/Donate.) Additionally, Younkins said a leave donation program has been established so employees with more accumulated leave than they can use are able to deposit the extra time in a pool for coworkers who need hours or days to put their personal and family lives back together. He also said the court system set up a counseling program to help workers address any lingering emotional issues, and local ride-share programs are helping employees without vehicles get to work.
Tom Hickey, a court officer in the Brooklyn Criminal Court, is among those who have been aided by coworkers.
"I had 25 to 30 court officers come down on their own time and help me gut my house," said Hickey, whose Breezy Point, Queens, home was heavily damaged when Sandy washed away pretty much everything on the ground floor. "My friends from the Brooklyn Criminal Court have gone out and gotten my kids toys. I called the relief drive and said I could use some work gloves, and they brought over 40 pairs, which I am sharing with my neighbors."