Dora B. Schriro, the correction commissioner, slept on a couch in her office at the Rikers Island jail, bracing for flooding and reassuring inmates and employees that the island would weather the storm.
read source article
The next morning, the vast jailhouse complex was mostly unscathed, but Ms. Schriro was stunned by the devastation the storm had wrought elsewhere. So she decided to put her jail, and those who call it home, to work. Inmates did 6,600 pounds of laundry for people in emergency shelters. The jail supplied generators and gas to fuel them to neighborhoods in the dark, and donated long underwear usually given to inmates. And officers with medical training provided emergency care to victims.
Capt. Richard Polak, who helps oversee the laundry at Rikers, accompanied other correction officers to pick up sheets, blankets, towels and clothes from a dozen shelters in storm-struck parts of the city. The items were returned laundered within hours. It was the first time Rikers’s laundry was used to help in a citywide emergency, the correction agency said.
The jail continues to contribute in ways small and large. On Wednesday, a shipment of food and clothing was made to a women’s shelter in the Bronx where more than 100 storm evacuees are living. And on Thursday, an association of black correction workers is delivering Thanksgiving dinner to a public-housing project in Far Rockaway.