Communities Of Color Still Struggling To Rebuild After Hurricane Sandy

March 6, 2014  |  

Hurricane Sandy occurred more than a year ago but many lower-income residents in the eastern area of the Rockaways in New York City’s borough of Queens have been struggling to rebuild–and their struggles has gone relatively unnoticed.

The media focused most on the problems of the upper-middle-class neighborhoods of the western Rockaway peninsula and the controversy over allocation of Sandy relief aid in New Jersey, while lower-income areas, which are mainly African-American and Latino, have been left without enough resources to get back on their feet following the super storm.

“Critics say government agencies have failed to support the lower-income communities in the Rockaways…,” reports theGrio.  New York City Councilman Donovan Richards, who represents parts of the Rockaways, helped pass Sandy Tracker legislation last year, but even he says federal funds have still been slow to reach his constituents in need. “This was the Ninth Ward,” Councilman Richards told The Grio, referring to the poor, Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina that took years to rebuild.

While FEMA did offer aid to New York residents, many of those in lower-income communities of the Rockaways are renters and did not have the economic means to meet FEMA’s criteria, say sources.

FEMA however insists it has helped “tens of thousands of Sandy survivors who are homeowners, renters and neither of the two.”

When contacted by The Grio, new NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office pointed the “Build it Back” initiative offering assistance to displaced New York City residents. But sources claim  this effort was slow to implement help during Bloomberg’s tenure as mayor.

“It is worth noting that Build it Back is the last recovery option in a series of City-sponsored initiatives,” a spokesperson from Mayor de Blasio’s office told The Grio. “We helped restore heat, hot water and electricity to more than 12,000 residences within 100 days of the storm – assistance totaling $650 million––at no cost to storm victims. Further, the city created its own hotel program to house displaced storm victims, completely independent of FEMA’s hotel program (which, it is important to note, has its own rules).”

For some residents it was hard to obtain vital information about all the available resources, another hindrance to rebuilding after Sandy. Question is how much longer people are expected to wait for help they need.

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