This past week has been a very difficult one for our community.
The torrential downpours from Ida devastated family homes and we lost over a dozen people in the floods in our district alone. The vast majority of these tragedies were connected to safety hazards in off-the-books basement dwellings that people have been forced to turn to as a result of the city’s cost of living and housing crisis.
I’ve spent the last week canvassing the community and working with FEMA, President Biden, Governor Hochul, state and local officials, block associations, and community members to cut through red tape and try to get relief out as swiftly as possible.
Here’s the good news: help is here. We’ve worked to make this one of the fastest ever FEMA approvals for disaster relief. Folks who have experienced damages from the storm can apply now at DisasterAssistance.gov for grants up to $34,000. My advice is to apply for this aid as soon as possible, document EVERYTHING while you can, and to take photos of all your damaged belongings — including bar codes and model stickers on your major appliances, electronics, or higher-priced items.
Our community is coming together and doing everything we can to help each other heal and recover. Many organizations are on the ground right now working to provide assistance and distribute supplies to those who need it most.
The hard news is this, climate change is here. Relief can only go so far. Without examining our systems of power and wealth, we will find ourselves in this position again and again.
We need to be asking ourselves questions like:
Why are rents so high that we must resort to dangerous living conditions when luxury apartments throughout the city are vacant?
Why are insurance companies allowed to deny people flood insurance and then deny people’s claims when a storm hits – putting the cost of climate change on everyday people?
Why do our officials allocate trillions for war but not enough to rebuild our 100+ year old sewer systems?
Where is the accountability for fossil fuel companies who lied to the public about climate change for decades?
People deserve better, and we ALL become safer when we challenge the systems that harm the many for the benefit of the few. It’s past time to try new policies and systems that will prepare us for what is to come.
I believe in a better future for all of us. We just need the faith that we can do it and the will to fight for those we don’t know.
Love and solidarity,