A few weeks ago, superstorm Sandy devastated the Northeast, leaving thousands of Staten Island residents displaced while applying for FEMA relief and housing. In the meantime, local and state officials are considering moving the hundreds of residents into an unconventional location until housing comes through: a defunct state prison.
Just like in the current season of The Walking Dead, an old prison might be the best place to house residents until FEMA gets everything in order. Southern Staten Island’s Arthur Kill Correctional Facility [Well, that name isn’t at all intimidating… – Ed.] is a medium-security prison that has been closed for almost a year. Its infrastructure and foundation is still intact but the state of its boiler and waste management system is questionable.
Some local Islanders are unwilling to consider a prison as a viable option for stability. “I lost everything, but I still have my pride. We don’t have to stay in a prison,” said Wally Martinez, a displaced Staten Island resident. But local officials feel differently about the prison, “[It] shouldn’t be taken off the table because of a quote unquote stigma,” said Councilman James Oddo. “Between being cold and having people dry, in a warm, secure place, I know what my choice is.”
Peter Cutler, a spokesman for the Department of Corrections, states that, despite the lack of or questionable amenities of the facility, there are plans to bring generators and dislocated residents inside its walls. It’s unclear if the prison is up to code or safe, considering it has been closed down and was gutted almost a year ago. It seems like there may be better options out there instead of moving residents affected by the storm into a condemned building.