I am a fifth generation New Yorker and a retired artist and educator. For years I’ve run an independent fine art printing studio in the basement of my 10-unit condo building in Harlem.
On September 1, 2021, when Hurricane Ida dropped torrential rain onto Manhattan and the surrounding counties, I was one of the many who suffered from its wrath.
Six inches of water seeped into the basement and devastated my office space. Not only would I have to repair the flood damage, but the remnants of the flood caused a serious mold problem throughout the floorboards, baseboards, and walls. Everything would need to be removed, repaired, or rebuilt.
Because I lived in Manhattan, I didn’t qualify for any support from FEMA. My home insurance was able to help cover some of the expenses, but there were still tens of thousands of dollars left in repairs to be made. I couldn’t afford any of this on my own.
Thankfully, I went to a Disaster Assistance Center in Harlem shortly after the storm, and a representative informed me about the Hebrew Free Loan Society’s interest-free Storm Damage Loan. I applied and received $30,000 to repair my studio.
The destruction to my home and workspace was extreme. I don’t know what I would have done without the support from HFLS. As a retired arts educator, I might have had to reach into my life savings, depleting the funds I am depending on to help me navigate life in my older years, when I am not able to work anymore.
Thanks to HFLS, I am able to rebuild my home and office in a way that will ideally protect me from the next flood, and to continue working and supporting myself. For this, I am extremely grateful.