Since Hurricane Sandy tore through the East Coast two weeks ago, many parts of the Rockaways and Hamilton Beach – which are home to around 80,000 people – have remained without power, and the latest reports suggest that it could take the Long Island Power Authority until as late as Mid-December to restore electricity. As freezing winter temperatures approach, Greater NYC for Change and a coalition of 45 political and advocacy groups are campaigning for the city and FEMA to bolster their relief efforts and provide more comprehensive support and fully-equipped shelters for at-risk residents.
Over one hundred homes in the Rockaways were destroyed by the storm surge and flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy, which devastated large areas of the East Coast. The persistent power outage experienced by some residents, and the subsequent lack of running water and heat, still poses a substantial risk to many, particularly the elderly, infants, and those with health concerns. Additionally Greater NYC for Change cites the risk of asphyxiation faced by those who try to endure the prolonged outage by using gas stoves to heat their homes.
Those most impacted by the delayed restoration of electricity are reported to be predominantly low-income residents. FEMA and LIPA have both been criticized for their slow responses and ill-preparedness for the disaster, while the New York City Housing Authority has come under fire for abandoning tenants of the agency’s buildings for days after the storm.
Independent organizations have been providing emergency power—like Greenpeace with their solar powered generator—while many local residents and businesses have relied on generators of their own, in spite of difficulties procuring gas. A LIPA Marshall stated last week that it would take seven weeks to restore power to the area, but later claimed to have “misspoken,” and that she had instead intended to say “several weeks.”
Such statements are likely to do little to assuage the fears of local residents. It’s not just freezing temperatures and a lack of running water that are prompting concerns among residents; looting has also persisted since the massive storm knocked out power, creating further strife for local business owners already suffering from the outage.
Greater NYC for Change has started a petition to request support for residents affected by the ongoing power outage. To view and sign the petition, click here.