November 4, 2012 Update - Further Information About The Legal Aid Society's Operations - Message for Legal Aid Staff
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 05, 2012

Thank you again for your extraordinary efforts last week and over the weekend to resume our operations and to provide legal assistance to individual clients and our client communities when our legal help has been more critical than ever. We want to update you on developments since our communication to staff yesterday.

As expected, power has been restored to our offices at 49 Thomas Street, 350 Broadway, 60 Lafayette Street, 100 Centre Street, and 111 Centre Street, and all of the Criminal, Civil, and Family Courts in Lower Manhattan will resume operations on Monday, November 5. Staff at these locations should report to work during our regular business hours. Local managers have sent communications to staff working in these offices regarding office operations and court operations on Monday. We are deploying MIS staff to be ready to address computer, internet, telephone, and other systems problems at these locations. However, as we reported yesterday, we expect that there will be delays in restoring full services based on our experience with the delays last week when we reopened our other offices, some of which are continuing because of Verizon problems. For the Queens Criminal and Civil staff, as we also reported yesterday, while repairs to the HVAC system in our building proceed tomorrow, we have made arrangements for temporary space for the Criminal staff in the library of the Queens Criminal Courthouse and for Civil staff to work in the Queens Juvenile Rights office. We have no further updates on the status of the Water Street building and, as we advised on Saturday, Water Street staff should continue to report to the offices to which they have been relocated. Although the media has reported that MTA service has been restored between Brooklyn and Manhattan, we are continuing to run van service on Monday on a continuous loop between 111 Livingston Street and 100 Centre Street, including stops at Water Street. We suggest that you consult the MTA website for information about service restorations.

Among our most pressing problems for the coming week are the precariousness of our internet access and our lack of telephone service at some locations. Both of these problems are the result of Verizon service issues. We are pursuing our remedies for these Verizon problems at the highest levels. In the meantime, we are continuing to block streaming, and we ask that staff use web-email to access email rather than citrix and to limit citrix sessions to work that can only be completed via citrix.

Finally, we want to update you on the report that we sent on Friday about The Legal Aid Society's Hurricane Sandy Legal Assistance Relief initiative. Led by Civil staff but now with assistance from other Society staff, at the end of last week and during this weekend, we have provided legal assistance outreach services in Red Hook, Coney Island, Far Rockaway, and Staten Island as well as in evacuation shelters in Park Slope. We now have established disaster legal assistance programs in the FEMA Center in Coney Island, the Special Medical Needs Shelter for Seniors in the Park Slope Armory, the Red Hook Initiatives program, Councilmember Sanders' district office in Far Rockaway, and the FEMA Center in New Dorp, Staten Island. Efforts to set up an additional outreach site in Lower Manhattan are underway. Members of the new Criminal Defense class who started last month are volunteering to assist in this disaster relief outreach effort on Monday, pending the resumption of their training program on Wednesday in the Bronx because of the closure of the Water Street building. Criminal, Juvenile Rights and Central Administration staff who would like to participate in our disaster relief effort may do so, consistent with their client service and other obligations, by contacting Kim Forte at kforte@legal-aid.org.

Again, we greatly appreciate all of your efforts under these difficult circumstances.