New York Storm
Storm in New York Mette Køstner/Unsplash

NEW YORK CITY - Thousands of migrants were evacuated from Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn on Tuesday as the city prepared for high winds and winter storms affecting large areas of the country.

The move comes after severe weather alerts were issued all over the Mid-Atlantic region, with flood and wind warnings, watches and advisories carrying over to Wednesday morning.

Nearly 2,000 migrants— around 500 families— residing on a massive tent set up in the former airplane runway in southern Brooklyn, were taken to a local school to avoid the heavy rain and wind expected to hit the area.

Dozens of buses lined up in the field to take the asylum seekers to James Madison High School a few miles away, where they would spend the night and then be returned to Floyd Bennett Field the following morning.

"We want to make sure that people are safe," New York City Mayor Eric Adams told reporters in Albany. He added that the migrants would be temporarily relocated "out of an overabundance of caution."

City officials said the main concern and reason for the evacuation was the high winds, though there was an existing concern over flooding in and around Jamaica Bay.

The Floyd Bennett airplane runway is a historic site, which is why constructing the tents using stakes in the ground is not allowed, Zachary Iscol, the city's emergency management commissioner explained at a news conference Tuesday. He also explained that the tents are in a coastal area that is particularly prone to wind gusts.

At the shelter, migrants are tired and concerned.

Luisbeli Mendoza, a 24-year-old woman from Venezuela was staying at the Brooklyn shelter when they were relocated for the night. Mendoza arrived in New York a month ago with her husband, Carlos Quiroz and their two children.

"We're newly arrived and we're scared," she said, "we don't know anything."

Similarly, Edison Chavez, and his wife Valeria Lopez evacuated to the high school with their two sons. From Ecuador, they arrived a month ago to New York and have lived at Floyd Bennett Field ever since arriving.

"The last storm, we were scared because it seemed like the tents could've blown away... the life of a migrant is hard," Chavez told the New York Times.

The migrants arrived at James Madison High School when after-school activities were done, and were scheduled to return to Floyd Bennett Field on Wednesday at around 5:00 a.m., before the school day commenced. However, the school announced it would operate remotely on Wednesday to ensure a safe and smooth transition back to the shelter for these families.

The decision was met with backlash, especially from conservative locals.

"James Madison High School students are being punished and forced to bear the brunt of the migrant crisis perpetrated by Joe Biden," Inna Vernikov, the Republican councilwoman of the area said.

NYC Comptroller Brad Lander also showed his opposition to the decision, claiming it is not an effective long-term plan to house asylum seekers.

"The need for the City to find temporary shelter for the people already in temporary shelter demonstrates that the site was not adequately set up for extreme weather, on top of this hardship this isolated and inadequately serviced location, miles from the nearest neighborhood school, already imposes on its residents," Lander said in a statement.

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