Meet your future FEMA camp: An actual prison rebranded as a refugee center

by: J. D. Heyes

(NaturalNews) Imagine, for a moment, that you have lost your home in a natural  disaster and with it most of your possessions. It’s wintertime, you live on the  East Coast, and your old neighborhood has been leveled. What cash you have is  being used for the most basic of necessities; you don’t have enough money to  move into a hotel and even if you did they are all full anyway.

You have  nowhere to go. You are completely reliant on the government for  subsistence.

Life is as bad as it can get – or is it?

You learn  that you will be moved from the miserable tent city where you are now being  housed to a new temporary facility that used to be, of all things, a  prison.

While some officials see this as the state making the best use of  available resources, others see it as a prelude of things to come, should  societal order break down at some point in the future.

‘They might as  well use it’

Life in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy is still dicey  for many New Yorkers and New Jerseyans who continue to suffer mightily in its  wake. With so many residents now homeless, the state of New York is considering  reopening the recently closed Arthur Kill Correctional Facility on Staten Island  as a way to temporarily house people displaced by the storm and this past week’s  nasty winter storm, The New York Post reported.

The facility,  which was closed last December, served as a medium-security prison. Officials  say it has the capacity to feed and house as many as 900 people who now have  nowhere else to go.

“Our facilities staff have to go through it to  determine what it would take to get it up and running for such a purpose,” Peter  Cutler, a spokesman for the state Department of Corrections, told the  paper.

“Of course, the challenge is the fact that it was closed a year  ago and all of the major infrastructure components, such as boilers and  wastewater system, were deactivated,” he added.

As many as 40,000 New  Yorkers need shelter following the one-two punch of Sandy and the recent  nor’easter. On Staten Island alone, officials said, some 5,200 people have  applied for temporary FEMA housing, but like the FEMA in the wake of Hurricane  Katrina, the bureaucracy is painstakingly slow – only about two dozen people  have been successfully placed in housing, say federal officials, leaving us to  wonder if this agency’s historic bureaucratic inertia is still George W.  Bush’s fault.

At least the Post understands the irony of using a  former prison to house  post-storm refugees, saying such an arrangement may “resemble a scene out of  ‘The Walking Dead.'” But not everyone thinks it’s a bad idea.

“It’s  empty. They might as well use it,” said Rob Conigatti, 39, who lost his Dongan  Hills home and is now staying with his extended family. “At least they have the  right facilities. You can’t keep them in schools. The kids gotta go to  school.”

Note to self – Don’t rely on the government

A lot  of folks are staying in homes without power and heat and are merely riding out  the hard times. Others are staying with friends and family.

Many others;  however, don’t have such choices. So they have to take what they get,  essentially. In this case, they get FEMA.

“We have not got into the  discussion of longer term transitional housings,” said Councilman James Oddo  (R-SI). “If there is no other viable option, it shouldn’t be taken off the table  because of a quote unquote stigma. Between being cold and having people dry, in  a warm, secure place, I know what my choice is.”

But, of course, he  doesn’t really have to make that choice.

Some have firmly rejected the  notion. That includes Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro, according  to sources who spoke with the Post.

A number of residents hardest  hit by the storms feel the same way.

“I lost everything, but I still have  my pride. We don’t have to stay in a prison,” said Wally Martinez, 44, who is  staying at the Mount Manresa Jesuit Retreat House in Shore Acres with his wife,  two kids and family dog. “My brother was once in that very prison and my mother  used to visit him regularly. She used to tell me how miserable he looked and how  filthy and disgusting that prison was.”

If there is a better reason to be  prepared to take care of yourself in times of turmoil than having to rely on the  “charity” of government, we can’t think of one.





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