6/26/14

News from PortSide New York

According to an email update from ship-based Red Hook non-profit PortSide, which, like so many other local organizations, now relies on Facebook to keep in touch with its followers, the Sandy recovery process is going well.

Just over a year ago, Portside received a White House award for its aid delivery and resiliency work during the Sandy recovery process. Post-Sandy, PortSide has broadened its mission to include helping communities prepare for and recover from water disasters through community preparedness planning. 

PortSide has dedicated part of its website (See "Sandy" tab) and much its blog, Facebook and Twitter activity to recovery and resiliency information, and has mounted a page dedicated to deciphering the many resiliency plans affecting Red Hook.

Director Carolina Salguero sat on the Red Hook committee during the 8-month NYS NY Rising resiliency planning process. (You can read the final plan or its Executive Summary here.) Salguero's proposal for a pilot installing solar-powered emergency lights in NYCHA public housing was one of two projects presented during the Albany rollout of the plan (see 09:16 of video).

PortSide played a part in getting the mariners' 9/11 story right in the development of the recently-opened 9/11 Memorial Museum, having covered the mariners' response in a 2012 multimedia exhibit. The 9/11 museum left out the description of the mariners pumping water into the twin towers to fight the fires, supplying Ground Zero, removing rubble, and setting up emergency ferry networks in service for two years after the disaster.

The Museum, in PortSide's view, understates the magnitude of the maritime evacuation after 9/11:  the largest boatlift in history, by relegating it to a small nook. Getting the 9/11 story right is not just a reflection on history, said Salguero: it is part of the city's emergency and resiliency planning process.

This past winter, PortSide overhauled the Mary A. Whalen's galley, removing old paint to restore original colors and polishing metal surfaces. You can view the photos here. Skilled volunteers are being recruited to restore floor tiles, the wood-paneled fridge-freezer, and the galley stools and banquette. 

PortSide has partnered with photographer Jonathan Atkin to promote his Hero Project and to provide a conduit for grants to the Project. The Mary A. Whalen celebrated her 76th birthday on May 21, 2014 at the opening of the Hero Project exhibit. You can view the Hero Project photos on the ship Lilac in Tribeca until June 30 (Thursdays 4-7 PM and weekends 2-7 PM. 

Check the Mary A. Whalen Facebook page for images and other information about the progress of ship restoration and work life aboard, and the PortSide page for waterfront policy and news updates. Portside also has a regularly-updated Twitter feed.

This spring, PortSide has announced the addition of significant new partners, who are helping the organization maintain its ship-based home; new board members who are helping with fundraising; and new volunteer committees helping with ship maintenance. Volunteers are always welcome.

After a lengthy and difficult application process, FEMA has allocated recovery funds to reimburse PortSide for its Sandy-related recovery and repair expenses.

PortSide reports that Goltens Marine, in what it describes as a major loss to the harbor and to Red Hook's maritime portfolio, has closed its Red Hook location, although it continues domestic and international operations in 16 locations.

Goltens could fabricate or fix just about anything ship-related, as Rik Van Hemmen explains in this tribute. Other video interviews and photos of Goltens have been preserved by PortSide's WaterStories project.

Goltens' closure affects PortSide's Sandy recovery, since Goltens was the source of replacement parts for the Mary A. Whalen's engine, stored in the Sandy-flooded pier shed. The loss of Goltens means the loss of local knowledge about the Mary A. Whalen. PortSide will now have to solicit quotes from other engine restorers.

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