Storm Update - Continuing Legal Aid Operations on Friday, November 2, 2012 - The Courts Are Open And The Legal Aid Society Is Providing Client Services - Message for Legal Aid Staff
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 01, 2012

Thank you all for the outstanding work that you are doing to continue to provide client representation in the Criminal, Civil and Family Courts and in other advocacy efforts even as we are still addressing the operational problems that we have as a result of the storm.

We know that today was a very difficult day in light of continuing problems with transportation, telephone service, internet access, and other services. As with other organizations, companies and individuals, damage to the underlying Verizon systems caused significant disruptions for us.

However, we can report that as of the end of the day, we restored internet service to the combined Civil, Criminal, and Juvenile Rights office in the Bronx by going around the Verizon connection and routing our internet service directly to the data center; because of the precariousness of this connection, we are blocking all internet streaming. We have also restored internet service in our main Civil, Criminal and Juvenile Rights locations in Queens and at our combined Civil, Criminal and Juvenile Rights office in Staten Island. By the end of the day today, we were able to restore access to our internal systems for the combined Civil, Criminal, and Juvenile Rights office in Brooklyn so that staff there can have the same access to Outlook, computer files, and LawManager which staff in the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island offices have. In order to address the lack of internet service in Brooklyn and at the Harlem Community Law Office, we have arranged for the delivery of technology equipment to create WiFi hotspots in these offices tomorrow and we have deployed additional laptops in order to meet client service needs. We will reimburse staff who have added 30 days of hotspot WiFi access to their personal service provider accounts to help out in this crisis.

Because of damage to a main circuit at 75 Broad Street in Lower Manhattan, restoration of our telephone service in all five boroughs has been delayed, but we expect to have further information tomorrow.

In order to address the lack of public transportation between Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan, we have arranged for a van to run a continuous loop between 111 Livingston Street in Brooklyn and 100 Centre Street in Manhattan from 8 AM to 6 PM. This service will begin at 8 AM on Friday, November 2 at 111 Livingston Street. The van is white and marked with "Mario's Transportation" on the side and a Legal Aid staff member will be present on the van to identify the vehicle for staff.

As you may have seen in the media, Con Edison has announced plans to restore power in Lower Manhattan over the weekend. We are therefore hopeful that on Monday we will be able to return to our offices at 49 Thomas Street and 350 Broadway as well as at 60 Lafayette Street in the currently closed Family Court building. As soon as we have more information about the status of returning to these offices, we will provide it to you.

For Water Street staff, the time frame for our return to the 199 Water Street building is still uncertain as a result of the flooding there. Under separate cover, we have communicated to the Water Street staff regarding access to the building to retrieve files, computers and other materials. We are in the process of transferring the main 212-577-3300 Legal Aid number to the Bronx office so that the public can contact us. We will be developing a process to address how to reach individual Water Street staff members. We are also transferring our Human Resources and payroll services to the Livingston Street location. We are currently unable to receive Water Street mail from this week because the 90 Church Street and 35th Street post offices lost power and are closed. When postal service is restored, we will retrieve the mail from this week and implement a process for daily pickups for as long as we are displaced.

We understand the adverse circumstances under which everyone is working. Your efforts on behalf of clients and to restore our administrative services have been extraordinary. Thanks.