By Philip Guelpa for WSWS - October 29 marked the five-year anniversary of landfall by the hurricane known as Superstorm Sandy on the New York/New Jersey coast. The storm resulted in at least 182 deaths in the US and the Caribbean, including 43 in New York City, and caused an estimated $71 billion in losses in the US alone. Half a decade on, many are still suffering the impacts of that storm and much of the population remains vulnerable to catastrophic damage from future storms, preparations for which have barely begun or remain totally unaddressed. Sandy caused severe damage to many coastal communities in New Jersey and New York. And yet, despite the claims of city and state officials, the commitment of resources for reconstruction and storm-protection upgrades has been totally inadequate to address the threat. Even that which has been allocated is far from spent. By the spring of 2015, for storm recovery in New York City alone, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had pledged $5.8 billion. According to the Daily News, two and a half years later, much of that money has yet to be spent, and mandated deadlines for project completion are fast approaching. In the wake of the recent major hurricanes in Puerto Rico, Texas and Florida, already inadequate FEMA funding will be spread even more thinly.
By Bill Quigley for Popular Resistance. Dear Fellow Hurricane Survivors: Our hearts go out to you as you try to return to and fix your homes and lives. Based on our experiences, here are a few things you should watch out for as you rebuild your communities. Here are twelve lessons from a survivor of Hurricane Katrina which hit New Orleans. The final two points are: Don’t allow those in power to forget about the people whose voices are never heard. People in nursing homes, people in hospitals, the elderly, the disabled, children, the working poor, renters, people of color, immigrants and prisoners. There is no need to be a voice for the voiceless, because all these people have voices, they are just not listened to. Help lift their voices and their stories up because the voices of business and industry and people with money and connections will do just fine. It is our other sisters and brothers who are always pushed to the back of the line. Stand with them as they struggle to reclaim their rightful place. Twelve. Realize that you have human rights to return to your community and to be made whole. Protect your human rights and the human rights of others.
After Hurricane Isaac made landfall over areas of Louisiana and Mississippi in 2012, emergency response vehicles emblazoned with the logo of the Red Cross rolled in. According to one former field supervisor, dozens of those vehicles had no destination and no supplies, useless for anything but providing the appearance of disaster relief. A joint investigation by ProPublica and NPR showed that in spite of massive funding, relief efforts from the American Red Cross were disastrous, forcing smaller organizations to step in. On the second anniversary of Sandy, the report states in the aftermath of the hurricanes, aid distribution was 'politically driven' and the Red Cross set aside resources for PR purposes. It also detailed the disastrous state of on-the-ground relief efforts, with volunteers wasting thousands of meals, and failing to track sex offenders or allowing them into children's play spaces.