Dateline | November 02, 2012
>> in manhattan basically is good, we're not good down here.
>> reporter: at these low income projects in manhattan's chelsea neighborhood, a church group was helping out today. what are you bringing up there?
>> we have got some miscellaneous food items.
>> reporter: triscuts.
>> snack items, water. snack items, granola bars , chips.
>> reporter: granola bars . the idea is to get people through a day or two?
>> yeah. we have been up here every day and we're going to be here every day and we're delivering door to door every day until the power comes back on.
>> reporter: the volunteers here carried bags of food up to the elderly, either too tired, unable or too scared to climb the dark staircases.
>> how are you holding up with all these stairs?
>> going up to 13, and i tell you, it's not easy. 11 to 14 with no water, dragging water back and forth. it is not easy.
>> reporter: on the 12th floor, residents are going hungry.
>> food and water for you. want me to put it down here?
>> reporter: back downstairs and across the street, betsy hernandez who lives nearby says her neighborhood is already on the brink and now is over the edge .
>> we can't use the toilets, we can't take a bath, we can't heat up our food, we're, like, we're basically to have shelter, but they forgot about us.
>> reporter: you feel pretty cold?
>> yes, freezing at night. it's cold.
>> reporter: luckily, some new york cops and local charities were distributing packaged meals for people like her. on the way back to betsy 's apartment, signs of the emergency were everywhere. people are filling up their water bottles from the hydrant. are you using these for drinking or cleaning?
>> cleaning, flushing toilets and cleaning. not good for drinking.
>> reporter: not good for drinking?
>> no, not at all.
>> reporter: not at all. as for betsy , she didn't quite know what to make of the military style rations. so i helped her. it is a self-heating pouch.
>> right. self-heating pouch.
>> reporter: yeah, a self-heating pouch. these things don't taste great. they're full of preservatives, they never go bad, these are the things the u.s. military runs on when it has no --
>> that's what keeps them going.
>> reporter: that's what keeps them going when they have nothing. betsy is getting by. candles and buckets of water in the bathroom, but in the bedroom, she worries about a cold and scary night ahead. the sun is going down now. what is it like here at night when you're in this room --
>> it gets quiet.
>> reporter: no power.
>> it gets quiet. no one comes out. you don't hear anything. it is really quiet. very quiet, actually. everyone --
>> reporter: creepy?
>> reporter: at least betsy has a place to live. 20 blocks up town, just a few steps from the tinsel of broadway's theaters, may be the most desperate of new yorkers. we're from nbc news. can we film inside?
>> no, you guys can't.
>> reporter: whose permission would we need to --
>> no, you can't. you can't get in.
>> reporter: the school was turned into a shelter for hurricane victims, but was quickly inundated by the homeless. charity had been living on the streets with her triplets until the storm hit. now you're staying here in this school.
>> it is disgusting.
>> reporter: you think dangerous environment?
>> very dangerous. there is people with needles, there is people that come in there with knives, guns. it is not an environment for children.
>> reporter: maybe that's why they wouldn't let us film inside. for some, there are strains of hurricane katrina and the desperate scenes in the superdome. for others here who are homeless before, this is at least something and they're grateful for that.
>> i had a blanket last night. i had a meal last night. i had everything i needed last night.