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Tent City in Linden barely used during Hurricane Sandy

November 19, 2012 1:44:15 PM PST
This tent city in Linden, New Jersey is huge. It can house up to 4,000 people.

Employees tell Eyewitness News that at most, it was used by 100 people, and they want to know why it wasn't opened to the public, and why the amenities here weren't moved to hurricane victims who need them.

It was setup to house out-of-state utility workers who came to New Jersey after the storm to restore power. But employees shared photos with Eyewitness News, showing hundreds of cots, untouched, with plastic wrap still on the pillows.

"As an employee it was awesome because I made a good amount of money for doing almost nothing but it would have been better if people put it to use," said Michael Rozycki.

Rozycki was hired to work security at the tent city, which was built at the site of the old GM plant along Routes 1 and 9 in Linden. Rozycki says most days there were just 50 people at the shelter, but he says the caterers were still cooking close to 1,000 meals.

A few people would eat and the rest wouldn't eat and the food would be thrown out. Food like steak, noodles, chicken, rice, eggs, sausage, everything.

Not only was food thrown away, employees say the facility is full of amenities that were barely touched. Trailers providing hot showers, a laundry room, and a lounge with TV's and internet access.

One EMT, who doesn't want his identity revealed, says he was hired to provide medical care, but instead spent his days inside an empty tent, doing his college homework.

"It was very weird sitting there, I felt like it wasn't a real job, like it was a big scam and I didn't feel right at all," he said.

FEMA officials tell Eyewitness News the facility was set up by the state of New Jersey and paid for with taxpayer dollars. Employees here wonder why it wasn't opened up to storm victims, or why the amenities weren't moved elsewhere, once it became clear utility workers weren't using the site.

The facility management did say food was donated to a local church that wasn't used.

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