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RIOC Cool and Callous as Heat Wave Rolls Into New York City


UPDATE 7/20/22: RIOC Relents

This morning, RIOC revised its cooling center hours: “Due to high temperatures / humidity expected from Wednesday, July 20th through Sunday, July 24th, the Cooling Center will be open from 10AM to 9PM on these days.

Cooling centers open today as a seven-day run with highs expected in the 90s begins, but only on Roosevelt Island does any location limits its hours severely. According to RIOC, no relief is offered during the hottest hours on any day. Governor Kathy Hochul has overall responsibility for RIOC with Shelton J. Haynes as her local administrator.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

RIOC’s Callous Announcement

All across New York City, cooling centers are opening today. Only on Roosevelt Island are their hours so restricted.

Be advised that the Senior Center located at 546 Main Street, will serve as the Roosevelt Island Cooling Center when the National Weather Service issues a Heat Advisory for New York City.  Due to high temperatures / humidity expected from Tuesday, July 19th  through Sunday, July 24th , the Cooling Center will be open from 4PM to 9PM on these days.

RIOC Advisories, July 18th, 4:50 P.M.

Note: There is no guidance included about face masks or social distancing. The state agency’s lazy, lackadaisical approach to public safety continues.

But the Department for the Aging’s rules are clear: “Older adult centers have been allowed to reopen with indoor and congregate activities. All participants are required to wear a face covering and maintain a social distance of at least six feet apart.”

DFTA how recognizes senior centers as “Older Adult Centers.” And according to New York City guidance, this location is “seniors only” as a Cooling Center.

Roosevelt Islanders in need during this period may be forced to leave the Island for relief as RIOC again appears asleep at the wheel.

The Need

While most Roosevelt Island residences are air-conditioned, that’s not true for all, and some are broken or inadequate.

New York City began the Cooling Center Program because “high temperatures can be dangerous, especially for vulnerable populations such as older adults and people with chronic medical conditions.”

“Cooling centers provide a respite from the heat for New Yorkers without air conditioning in their homes. They are also open to the public during extended power outages,” according to DFTA.

Roosevelt Island is home to a significant senior population, as well as many people with chronic medical conditions.

Cooling Centers in nearby Astoria with more humane conditions, including extended hours, can be found at the City’s Cooling Center Finder.

The Risk

“Extreme heat can be oppressive and dangerous, especially for people who are elderly or already have underlying health problems,” said then-Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “We urge all New Yorkers to take advantage of cooling centers and other resources available to stay safe and healthy during this heat wave.”

“Older New Yorkers are especially vulnerable to the health effects of extreme heat. When temperatures rise, it’s important for seniors to stay hydrated, limit their time outdoors, and take advantage of cooling centers,” said DFTA Commissioner Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez.

Another RIOC Screw Up?

Don’t expect RIOC’s bunkered President Shelton J. Haynes to intervene. He’s off until Thursday, but it’s worth noting that these extreme restrictions were never in place before he unseated Susan Rosenthal in June 2020.

The most restricted hours before he assumed “leadership” began at 2:00 p.m., and that was an isolated incident.

The Daily appealed to every RIOC board member as well as our elected officials. None responded.

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