Sandy and the City’s Response

It has been over two weeks since Hurricane Sandy struck New York City, devastating neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island – as well as many other places in the region. The relief response has been sometimes overwhelmingly large from activists and community groups and individuals, working with scant resources and doing what many expected the city to do but has not: to help those most affected in a time of crisis.

By Mayor Bloomberg’s own estimation, 30,000 people will need shelter provided to them to survive the winter. Those who don’t want to go to a city shelter can be relocated to temporary housing, but only in places outside of New York City and far from people’s neighborhoods and communities.

Throughout the hurricane and into what is now a housing crisis, volunteers, political figures and communities have expressed frustration with the city’s seeming inability to help, or to even acknowledge the scale of the crisis, with the Mayor expressing that “the financial markets will resume, as will business in all five boroughs” just one day after the storm – while hundreds of thousands of people in the region lacked transportation, water, electricity or even shelter.

The crisis is so large that the humanitarian-aid group Doctors Without Borders, which usually operates in undeveloped countries, has set up a clinic in Far Rockaway, calling the area a “global disaster zone.”

Mayor Bloomberg announced on November 9 a new city program, called “Rapid Repair,” that would return people to their damaged homes beginning next week, at the expense of FEMA. The Mayor promised more ideas for other stranded New Yorkers “next week.”

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently derided the performance of the utility companies’ preparation for and response to Hurricane Sandy, including National Grid and Con Edison, in a letter to the companies, complaining of their “failure to keep the trust that New Yorkers have placed in you by granting you the privilege to conduct utility business in New York State.” Many residents are not expected to have power back until after Thanksgiving.

(originally aired in tv form at Occupy Public Access TV)

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