Migrants evacuated from Floyd Bennett Field shelter ahead of storm

City officials evacuated the mega-migrant shelter at Floyd Bennett Field Tuesday afternoon amid safety concerns ahead of the arrival of a major coastal storm.

Some 1,900 migrants residing at the Marine Park shelter were removed from the facility due to an updated forecast, which is predicting increased wind speeds at over 70 miles per hour, heavy rain and possible flooding.

“The health and safety of migrants in our care is always a top priority, which is why we are currently overseeing the relocation of 1,900 guests from the humanitarian emergency response and relief center at Floyd Bennett Field,” a spokesperson for City Hall confirmed to Brooklyn Paper. “To be clear, this relocation is a proactive measure being taken out of an abundance of caution to ensure the safety and well-being of individuals working and living at the center.”

The City Hall spox added that the temporary relocation will continue until weather conditions have stabilized and “the facility is once again fit for living.”

The shelter at Floyd Bennett is one of Mayor Eric Adams’ administration’s large-scale Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers (HERRCs). It is built on a decommissioned airfield in federal parkland that the city is leasing from the Biden administration.

A look out at the Floyd Bennett Field shelter site.Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

Prior to opening in November, the shelter has been dogged by controversy with critics on both sides of the aisle slamming its remote location, potential dangers of the pods for children and fire safety concerns.

City Comptroller Brad Lander said the need for the Office of Emergency Management to find temporary shelter for the people already in temporary shelter demonstrates that the site was “not adequately set up for extreme weather.”

“Placing asylum seekers in Floyd Bennett Field, despite the known significant storm risks, highlights the mismanagement and waste of money that is all-too-present in City Hall’s approach to shelter and services for asylum seekers,” said Lander in a statement Tuesday, calling on the Adams Administration to provide partners in government with clear information about what is being done to increase flood protection measures as well as the longterm plan for Floyd Bennett Field as an emergency shelter.

Belongings and supplies left scattered.Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

City Hall did not confirm to Brooklyn Paper where those evacuated from Floyd Bennett Field would be temporarily housed, but Council Member Inna Vernikov issued a statement claiming that the families are being temporarily relocated to nearby James Madison High School.

“This is both unacceptable and was entirely foreseeable, as Floyd Bennett Field is vulnerable to all forms of increment weather conditions and is not a sustainable housing facility,” Vernikov said in a statement.” As an elected official representing this community, I demand a full stop to using our public schools as a shelter ever again.”

The Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless issued a joint statement Tuesday asking city officials to stop placing families with children at the facility, saying that the storm-induced evacuation is a foreshadow of more problems to come.

“This last-minute evacuation further proves that Floyd Bennett Field – a facility mired in a flood zone, miles from schools and other services – has never and will never serve as an appropriate and safe place to shelter families with children,” the two organizations said. “The City has provided scant details on its plan for these families, including where exactly they will be moved and for how long and, most importantly, if those temporary locations comply with the shelter requirements for families with children as prescribed by the court and by law.”

Over 200 shelter sites have been opened in the last year by the Adams administration across the five boroughs in a bid to deal with the record number of arrivals – many of which have drawn protests by local residents and politicians, the site at Floyd Bennett among them.

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