The evacuation center for victims of Hurricane Sandy located at the Fitzgerald Gym in Queens College, which housed up to 550 people over its course of 22 days in operation, officially closed on Nov. 18.
Fitzgerald Gym served as a safe haven for people from Queens who lost their homes or did not have electricity temporarily. The shelter provided citizens with constant clothes, food, toiletries and sleeping space. There were nine other shelters set up at CUNY schools, all of which have been shut down over the course of the week.
The gym is slowly getting back on its feet with the aquatic center that opened its doors on Nov. 17, but with limited hours and only for those who partake in swimming lessons that had already been scheduled prior to Sandy. The fitness center is expected to re-open on Nov. 26.
Various volunteer efforts were put together by the students on campus to help the people living in the shelter including tutoring for children after school, donations of food and supplies as well as entertainment events for the children living there.
The school’s Committee for Disabled Students provided large scale entertainment in the gym on Nov. 13 to help people alleviate the emotional losses they had suffered.
“We decided to throw this event because we know it’s hard for parents to explain to children what’s going on,” said Liliete Lopez, chairperson of CDS. “What we hope to accomplish is to bring smiles to their faces and take their minds off of what they’re going through.”
Some changes were made to QC’s offices to cater to the evacuees including the gym facilities being closed for three weeks as well as One Stop, which was moved from its original location in the Dining Hall to a section of the adjacent cafeteria. The One Stop space was temporarily utilized as a medical center for a weeklong period but has now returned to its original state.
Two overnight shelters are still in operations for victims; one in Staten Island and one in Brooklyn.