By C.C. Carmignani
November 5, 2013
One year after Hurricane Sandy, some New Yorkers are still suffering from the storm’s aftermath. Local residents gathered outside of City Hall on October 26 for a protest organized by climate advocacy group 350.org and ALIGN NY, a coalition of local groups, to raise awareness about the hardships that disadvantaged communities still face, and the vulnerability of those communities to future disasters.
As hundreds of protesters gathered for the event entitled Turn The Tide, volunteers distributed signs, carved to resemble ocean waves, which read, “We Deserve Hope” and “One Year After, Still Struggling.”
Prominent community organizations such as Members of Faith in New York from Far Rockaway, NYC Environmental Justice Society, Coalition for the Homeless, Red Hook Initiative, Community Voices Heard, Project Hospitality, Sustainable South Bronx, and Occupy Sandy attended the rally to show their support.
Survivors shared testimonies about their hardships in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, including Lulu Vasquez, a single mother who lived in Midland Beach, Staten Island, before the storm, but was unable to find a new home close to the rent price she used to pay.
“The only apartment that I could find after Sandy cost $450 more than what I paid before the storm,” Vasquez said, holding back tears.
She still lives in Staten Island but had to work two jobs to make ends meet. Her two children, whom she now spends less time with, have a much longer school commute than before Sandy.
102713_0694Ritchie Torres, Council member of the Bronx’s District 15, spoke about health risks associated with post-Sandy recovery. He said that mold damage “drains the livability of our homes” and puts thousands of residents at a health risk. “I will call for legislation that will requires the removal of mold to be done by a licensed professional,” he added.
Shirley Aldebol, Vice President of 32BJ SEIU, the largest property service workers union in the United States, spoke about how, even one year after Sandy, many schools still lack adequate infrastructure and resources.
“A year later, we still have schools that still do not have functioning boilers,” Aldebol said. “Schools across the city have trucks outside the schools with generators to make sure that there is electricity.”
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