Sandy’s Disproportionate Impact


>>>WE TURN NOW TO THE SUPER STORM SANDY EFFECT. STUDIES SUGGEST THAT SANDY AND OTHER RECENT STORMS HAD A DISPROPORTIONATE IMPACT ON LOW INCOME NEIGHBORHOODS AND COMMUNITIES OF COLOR. A QUESTION NOW ARISES ABOUT THE CAUSE OF ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE AND HOW TO ADDRESS IT. JOINING US WITH INSIGHT ON ALL THAT, ANDREA COLOGNE WHO’S AN ORGANIZER FOR THE SOCIAL JUSTICE ORGANIZATION COMPRISED OF YOUNG WOMEN OF COLOR. AND MR. MURPHY. WELCOME TO BOTH OF YOU. ANDREA, LET ME START FIRST WITH YOU AND ASK YOU ABOUT YOUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCES WITH SANDY. HOW DID IT IMPACT YOU?>>SO, I LIVE IN A BUILDING. SO, IN TERMS OF LOSING HOME, I DIDN’T EXPERIENCE THAT, BUT WE DID LOSE POWER FOR ABOUT A MONTH. I JUST REMEMBER I COULDN’T GO TO SCHOOL. EVERYTHING WAS JUST CLOSED DOWN. WHATEVER WE HAD TO EAT BEFORE THE STORM WAS WHAT WE HAD TO STICK WITH FOR ABOUT AN ENTIRE MONTH. AND IT WAS — IT WAS DIFFICULT JUST SEEING MY COMMUNITY IN A STATE OF — IN THE STATE THAT I HAD NEVER SEEN IT BEFORE.>>WHERE WAS THIS? WHERE IN NEW YORK SPECIFICALLY?>>IN FORROCK WAY. WE GOT HIT PRETTY HARD BY THE STORM. I LIVE IN AN AREA THAT’S ABOUT AN EIGHT MINUTE WALK TO THE BEACH SO THERE WASN’T AS MUCH FLOODING AS THOSE RIGHT BY THE SHORE OR BY THE BAY. THE BAY AND THE OCEAN MIXED.>>THEY BECAME ONE WHICH WAS THE PROBLEM. HOW ABOUT IN THE FIRST, LET’S SAY, WEEKS AFTERWARDS, WHAT DID YOU SEE IN TERMS OF EFFORTS TO GET PEOPLE BACK ON THEIR FEET, POWER TO REMEDY THE STRUCTURAL PROBLEMS?>>I DIDN’T REALLY SEE THAT IN MY COMMUNITY. BUT WHAT I DID SEE BECAUSE I WAS TAKING A CLASS IN BROOKLYN, A SATURDAY CLASS, SO I WENT TO THE WEST SIDE OF THE PENINSULA TO TAKE THE BUS, PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION. AND I SAW RED CROSS, RVs THAT CAME WITH RESOURCES AND FOOD. PEOPLE JUST HANDING OUT A LOT OF MATERIALS AND FOOD THAT WAS NEEDED IN THAT COMMUNITY. AND IT JUST BECAME CLEAR TO ME THE RACIAL DISPARITY.>>SO, YOU DIDN’T SEE THAT?>>NO, I DIDN’T SEE THAT IN FORROCK WAY. IT WAS VERY APPARENT TO ME AT THE AGE OF, LIKE, 12 THAT THERE WAS A DISPARITY HAPPENING.>>FOLKS HAVE BEEN DOING A LOT OF REPORTING ON THIS. WHAT ABOUT THE NOTION OF THE DISPARITY AS ANDREA SAYS BETWEEN THE LOW INCOME COMMUNITIES, THE DAMAGE THAT WAS DONE, AND MORE IMPORTANT THE REMEDIES FOR IT AND OTHER MORE WELL-TO-DO COMMUNITIES.>>THE STORM ITSELF OBVIOUSLY DOESN’T DISCRIMINATE. BUT VULNERABILITY IS NOT EVEN ACROSS THE POPULATION. IT INTERSECTS WITH INCOME, RACE –>>IN WHAT WAY?>>EVERYTHING FROM THE ACTUAL GEOGRAPHY, RIGHT? HISTORICALLY PLACES THAT WERE MORE VULNERABLE TENDED TO BE PLACES WHERE LOW INCOME PEOPLE FIND A PLACE TO LIVE. LOW INCOME PEOPLE ARE LESS LIKELY TO AFFORD TO EVACUATE BECAUSE IT’S PRICEY. IT’S LESS LIKELY TO HAVE THE ROOM OR MONEY TO STASH SUPPLIES. IN SOME STORMS YOU SEE THE FACT THERE IS SADLY AND FRIGHTENINGLY IN WHO KNOWS HOW TO SWIM. FOR A PERSON WHO DOEKNOWS HOW T SWIM, A FLOOD IS A SCARY THING. FOR SOMEONE WHO DOESN’T KNOW HOW TO SWIM, 5 INCHES OF WATER IS POTENTIALLY A DEATH SENTENCE. THEY’RE LESS LIKELY TO HAVE FLOOD INSURANCE. AND REPAIRS ON THE HOUSE, THAT’S MUCH HARDER. AFTER SANDY THERE WERE PROGRAMS TO BUY OUT PROPERTIES THAT WERE IN VULNERABLE AREAS. IF YOUR MORTGAGE IS UNDER WATER, YOU HAVE SPLIT DEEDS, SOME OF THE PROBLEMS THAT AFFECT LOW INCOME HOMEOWNERS, THE PROGRAMS ARE MUCH LESS ACCESSIBLE.>>YOU CAN’T CASH OUT AND SAY –>>FROM BEGINNING TO END, FROM PREVIEW TO AFTER MATH THERE IS AN ELEVATED RISK FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE LOW INCOME.>>LET ME TALK ABOUT YOUR ORGANIZATION. HOW DID IT GET STARTED AND WHAT’S ITS PURPOSE?>>SO, THE ORGANIZATION WAS AN IDEA. SO, BEFORE SANDY, 2011, OF YOUNG PEOPLE HAVING A VOICE AND A SAY IN LOCAL POLITICS AND JUST A VOICE IN GENERAL BEING THAT YOUNG DON’T USUALLY GET THAT SEAT AT THE TABLE WHEN IT COMES TO IMPORTANT DECISIONS. IT WASN’T UNTIL AFTER SANDY WE STEPPED IN AND SAID IF WE’RE NOT GETTING THE RESOURCES AND HELP WE NEED POSTSANDY WE HAVE TO DO IT OURSELVES PROVIDED WATER, FOOD, MEDICAL ATTENTION TO FOLKS WHO LIVED IN HIGH-RISE BUILDINGS AND WAS REALLY THAT HELP THAT OUR COMMUNITY NEEDED. AND TODAY WE’VE SHIFTED OUR FOCUS AND WORKED MORE ON SOCIAL JUSTICE ISSUES SUCH AS THE PIPELINE, FOOD JUSTICE, THE HALF ACRE OF FARM WHICH EVEN TIES INTO IF ANOTHER HURRICANE — WHEN ANOTHER HURRICANE –>>YEAH, WHEN, RIGHT?>>– OUR FARM HELPS SORT OF PREVENT DAMAGE IN TERMS OF WATER AND EVERYTHING, STUDIES.>>HOW ABOUT THE COMMUNITY YOU WERE IN AT THE TIME, HOW HAS IT RECOVERED?>>IT TOOK A WHILE. BUT IN TERMS OF HOMES, THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO HAVEN’T MOVED INTO THEIR HOMES — I HAD A FRIEND IT TOOK THREE YEARS TO MOVE INTO THEIR HOME AFTER SANDY. IT REALLY CAUSES DISPLACEMENT REALLY.>>IN LOOKING AT GOVERNMENT POLICIES, GOVERNMENT ACTIONS, WHAT HAVE YOU FOUND IN TERMS OF IF ANY PROPOSALS OR CONCRETE THINGS THAT HAVE BEEN DONE SINCE SANDY THAT MIGHT HELP TO AMELIORATE THIS — WE WERE SAYING IF, BUT WE SHOULD SAY WHEN — THE NEXT HURRICANE HITS.>>WELL, THE CITY HAS BEEN ENGAGED THE IN A MULTIBILLION DOLLAR EFFORT TO SHORE UP DEFENSES. THAT EFFORT IS LAGGING IN A LOT OF PLACES. IT’S NOT GOTTEN NEARLY FAR ENOUGH. I THINK THE THING THAT COMES OUT IN A LOT OF SITUATIONS THE PEOPLE HAVE LOOKED AT IS THAT PLANNING IS REALLY KEY. IT’S WHEN PEOPLE ARE IN AN EMERGENCY AND CHAOS MAKING DECISIONS ON THE FLY. THAT’S WHEN MORE VULNERABLE PEOPLE TEND TO GET HURT WORSE. SO, THE EXTENT THAT THE CITY WAS TO HAVE A CONVERSATION ABOUT THE FUTURE OF CLIMATE CHANGE, ABOUT WHETHER THERE WERE SOME NEIGHBORHOODS THAT AREN’T GOING TO BE LIVABLE ANYMORE, ABOUT SERIOUS RESILIENCY MEASURES, DOING THAT AHEAD OF TIME AND HAVING THOSE PLANS WELL IN PLACE FOR THE INEVITABILITY OF MORE SEVERE STORMS, THAT’S KEY, NOT JUST PROTECTING EVERYBODY BUT PARTICULARLY PROTECTING LOW INCOME PEOPLE.>>WE OFTEN TIMES HEAR THE NOTION OF GENTRIFICATION AROUND THE CITY. THERE WERE SOME SUGGESTIONS AFTER THE STORM THAT THIS MIGHT BE THE OPPORTUNITY FOR DEVELOPERS TO SWOOP INTO AREAS WHERE LOW INCOME FOLKS WERE LIVING AND BASICALLY FOR THE REASONS YOU WERE MENTIONING BEFORE COULD NOT AFFORD TO REBUILD AND SAY THIS IS CLOSE TO THE WATER. WE CAN MAKE THIS MUCH MORE ATTRACTIVE PROPERTY WHICH WILL OF COURSE HAVE A LOT TO DO CHANGING THE NATURE, THE COMPLEX, LITERALLY AND FIGURATIVELY. ARE YOU SEEING THAT?>>IT’S INTERESTING ANDREA TALKED ABOUT THE BAY AND THE OCEAN MEETING. WE SEE GENTRIFICATION THAT PRE-DATED THE STORM MEETING WITH WHATEVER PROCESS HAD BEEN TRIGGERED BY ITSELF. WE’VE SEEN IT LOTS OF PLACES. NEW ORLEANS IT WASN’T JUST THE FINANCIAL VULNERABILITY BUT THE FACT THAT PEOPLE WERE ALERTED TO THE GREAT CITY BY THE COVERAGE OF THE STORM. TO SOME DEGREE, I THINK THAT’S WHAT’S HAPPENED IN THE ROCK AWAYS. THERE’S SOME EVIDENCE OF THAT. DISENTANGLING IT FROM THE OTHER GENTRIFICATION IS HARD TO DO. THE IMPORTANT THING IS PEOPLE WHO ARE VULNERABLE NEED HELP FROM THE GOVERNMENT AND THE FINANCIAL TRICEP WHETHER IT’S BECAUSE OF THE STORM, BAD MORTGAGE, LOSS OF INCOME FROM A JOB, WHATEVER.>>ARE YOU SEEING THOSE CHANGES TAKING PLACE IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD AND OTHERS?>>I THINK IT HAS TO DO WITH — I THINK THE BIGGEST FACTOR IS THE ATTENTION THE COMMUNITY GETS AFTER A DISASTER LIKE THAT. SO, I DEFINITELY DID SEE THAT. THE ROCK AWAYS GOT A LOT OF ATTENTION AND IT COULD BE GOOD AND BAD IN THAT IT’S NEAR THE WATER. IT COULD BE MADE MORE BEAUTIFUL. AND WITH ALL THE DEVELOPMENT THAT’S HAPPENING IN ROCK AWAY, I THINK IT’S IMPORTANT TO B CAUTIOUS OF THE POTENTIAL HARMS OF THAT IN DISPLACING FAMILIES AND CAUSING GENTRIFICATION. I’VE SEEN SOME CHANGES. IT IS SCARIER, JUST SOMETHING DIFFERENT AND THAT I’M NOT USED TO. BUT WE’LL SEE HOW IT PLAYS OUT. I HOPE THE CITY DOES TAKE AN ACTIVE ROLE IN TAKING ANTI-GENTRIFICATION MEASURES IN THE HOUSING DEVELOPMENT.>>ANDREA, THANK YOU FOR SPENDING TIME AND THE VALUABLE WORK YOUR ORGANIZATION IS DOING. GREAT REPORTING FROM YOU AS ALWAYS. YOU BOTH BE WELL.>>THANK YOU.

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