Residents of Rockaways joined together with Occupy Sandy on December 15, marching the streets and demanding that the government do something to help rebuild the neighborhood after Hurricane Sandy.
It is now two months since Superstorm Sandy hit the area, but the disaster is far from over for these residents, and relief needs are still great.
Heat and electricity are still absent in many areas, and many homes are uninhabitable, with black mold taking hold. Those living in homes with mold are becoming sick.
With some landlords increasing rents by huge amounts, to try and cover their costs, and with other property owners deciding not to repair properties and evicting tenants, times are very hard in the Rockaways.
Some people had household insurance on their houses and are now finding that the response from the insurance companies is taking much too long.
Yet with all the problems still ongoing, government and FEMA response has been glaringly absent. As they did with Hurricane Katrina, and other recent disaster-and-recovery events, reconstruction resources and responsibility have been handed off by city, state and federal agencies, to corporations and markets. This hand-off has pushed affected people further out of their communities, further into crisis and vulnerability, and further from the decision-making tables that allocate public resources.
Where the government has failed, Occupy and other groups have stepped in. Occupy Sandy Relief NYC has done the very best it can, but it cannot restore electricity and replace homes.
On December 15, citizens, activists and community leaders took to the streets to demand change from the government and to take charge themselves. The people are demanding that power is restored to the people.
Residents of Rockaways protest the lack of help from the government and FEMA after Hurricane Sandy.
The people also now understand that climate change has turned a corner and they know they will be hard hit again by extreme weather events.
Hence they are taking to the streets to ask "whose interests our government serves? Is it polluters, predatory lenders, and disaster profiteers?"
"Or can we build a stronger, better, resilient New York where all of us, regardless of race, class or power, can weather future storms?"
Do you live near the Rockaways? Have you also been affected by the lack of government and FEMA support after Sandy? Please comment below.