AUA student Jacob Katz helps storm victims living in Coney Island. Original article featured in the NY Daily News.

Even a dark, freezing hell has its heroes.

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A 59-year-old Brooklyn doctor and her two medical student children are embedded with thousands of freezing Coney Island seniors living in a storm-ravaged blackout without heat or hot water.

Dr. Victoria Katz, who runs the N.Y. Arthritis Clinic on E. 14th St. in Midwood, set up a satellite office inside the Warbasse Houses, a sprawling, mixed-income housing development on Neptune Ave. with a population of about 6,000 who are stuck in the cold.

“I feel so sorry. So many people don’t know what is happening,” said Victoria Katz said. “People don’t understand why they have to live like this.”

The Katz children — 30-year-old Jacob, who is a fourth-year medical student at the American University of Antigua, and 34-year-old Iya, who is a first-year medical student at the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine — rotate shifts climbing up and down 24-story buildings checking on residents.

The trio has treated more than a hundred people since Sandy hit last Monday.

“Although there are a lot of people we’ve helped, a lot more people need help,” said Jacob Katz, who volunteered himself and his family last week after learning about Warbasse’s woes from a Facebook post detailing how the five-building complex with 2,580 apartments had no electricity, working elevators, heat or hot water.

Sandy’s winds pushed the Atlantic Ocean’s waters a half-mile north, flooding Warbasse’s basement electrical systems, which need to be rebuilt.

“Once the transformers got hit with salt water, they were done,” said Warbasse’s manager, Thomas Auletti.

Councilman Domenic Recchia (D-Coney Island) set up a command center at Warbasse, hosting a stream of volunteers who gave out donated food, clothes, and even adult diapers.

“So many seniors stayed behind. So many don’t want to leave their homes,” said Recchia. “They think they will come back and lose all their stuff. They are worried about security.”

Health problems are even an issue at Warbasse for children.

“It’s horrible,” said Brian Yellis, 14, whose grandmother, Natalia Kniazeva, 72, asked Iya Katz to walk up four pitch black flights, fearing their 40-degree apartment was giving the boy the flu.

“I spend the days with my friends who have power. But at night, I come back here. I can’t leave her,” said Brian, wearing a pair of ski gloves standing in his lightless living room.

Iya Katz used her iPhone camera’s light to examine the teen and came back with a jug of steaming hot Theraflu for him to guzzle.

“It breaks my heart to see the way these people have to live,” she said.

Original article by Simone Weichselbaum. Read more:


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