The People’s Reconstruction Series is a sequence of educational encounters, organized by Occupy University, that address several issues related to Hurricane Sandy. Each encounter will gather at Bluestockings (172 Allen St. New York, NY 10002) and feature a presentation followed by horizontal discussion. We hope to provide a space for people to collectively reflect on the politics of climate disaster in New York City.
Encounter 1, “Rising Water”
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
*What are the politics of climate change at local, national, and international levels?
Encounter 2, “Individual Consequences”
Thursday, January 17, 2013
*How are individuals affected financially, emotionally, and otherwise by climate change? Specific emphasis will be given to communities in New York City impacted by Hurricane Sandy.
Encounter 3, “Community Response”
Thursday, January 24, 2013
*What can communities do to address immediate threats and consequences of climate change as well as address systemic injustices disasters like Sandy uncover.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 15th – POST-SANDY CALL TO ACTION
12pm actions in affected communities
5pm convergence in Manhattan @ Bloomberg’s house
Two months after Superstorm Sandy the disaster is not over and relief needs are still great. Homes are uninhabitable with black mold taking hold, heat and sanitation are still absent in many places. Yet the government response has been glaringly absent. As with Katrina and other recent disaster-and-recovery events city, state and federal agencies have handed off reconstruction resources and responsibility to corporations and markets.
That 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 government has failed, Occupy and other groups stepped in.
But we now understand that climate change has turned a corner: we will be hard hit again by extreme weather events. And so we 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?
12PM COMMUNITY RALLIES
1128 Olympia Boulevard
Across from St. Margaret Mary’s Church
Join us to celebrate and learn about Strike Debt projects while enjoying food, art, music, (even a children’s area) with allies including Occupy Sandy, Northeast Strike Debt Affiliates, faith groups and community organizations. Hope to see you there!
-- from the ‘Your Inbox: Occupied’ team
Occupy These Actions & Events
EVERY DAY Volunteer with Occupy Sandy
520 Clinton St., Brooklyn, C Train to Clinton/Washington.
Join us every day to help in the Rockaways, Coney Island, Staten Island, Sheepshead Bay and Red Hook. There continue to be thousands of New Yorkers in need of help restoring their homes from mold and other damage. New and returning volunteers are welcome to meet at 520 Clinton to be sent to help at recovery sites around the city.
Saturday, December 15th Rebuild the City: Restore Power to the People
We are living in mold, without heat or sanitation. We need local emergency housing, emergency mold remediation, and an end to the red tape. FEMA isn’t listening. The Mayor isn’t listening. We are doing the work ourselves. Sunday, we come together to ask the government: Will you work with us?
12pm Community Rallies:
Rockaways - Parking lot at Mott Ave and 21st st.
Staten Island - 1128 Olympia Boulevard, Across St. Margaret Mary's Church 5pm City Wide Convergence @ Mayor Bloomberg’s home:
17 East 79th btwn 5th Ave & Madison Ave
Sunday, December 16th, 2pm A Winter’s Jubilee: Strike Debt Regional Open House and Holiday Festival
55 Walker St., Manhattan
Interested in Strike Debt? Want to join up and help build a global debt resistance movement? Just want to learn what a global debt resistance movement might look like? Come to this open house & holiday festival hosted by Strike Debt NYC, featuring special guests Silvia Federici, George Caffentzis, and more! Bring your friends and family, Jubilation is in the air!
Sunday, December 16th, 3pm Neil Barofsky Visits OWS Alternative Banking
Room 411 of the Columbia University International Affairs Building at 118th and Amsterdam
Neil Barofsky, author of Bailout and former Special Inspector General of Tarp, has agreed to visit the Alternative Banking group of Occupy. He’s joining us at our regular weekly Sunday meeting time up at Columbia. Everyone is welcome, please come with questions for Neil. We will assume the audience has read his book.
Tuesday, December 18th, 8pm Immortal Technique Hip Hop Jam for Sandy Relief
Immortal Technique and Music For Occupy team up to bring you a dope night of REAL Hip Hop to to provide much needed relief to NYC and beyond from the devastating effects Hurricane Sandy brought to our city. For more information please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org $15.00 minimum donation. Proceeds to go to "Occupy Sandy" relief efforts.
For Text Message alerts on your cellphone about daily events, actions, and important information, sign up for the ComHub SMS blasts by texting @owscom to 23559.
A report by Strike Debt on the disaster wrought by Hurricane Sandy and the government’s response. This is a preliminary and living public service document that highlights the use of loans as the main form of assistance to help those affected better understand the choices being imposed on them. You are not a loan!
This report is a preliminary and living document highlighting the economic effects of Hurricane Sandy on New York City. It examines how the use of loans as the main form of “aid” to disaster-impacted communities is not effective at addressing individual or community needs. Further, the use of loans may lead to disastrous longer- term economic consequences for the impacted communities.
Although Hurricane Sandy was the first “Frankenstorm” to hit New York City, in recent years climate disasters have become a regular sight on the evening news. From Hurricanes Katrina and Irene to Midwestern droughts and wildfires in the Southwest, many communities are facing these types of crises all across the country. As our climate has changed, the burden of the cost of disaster has also been shifting. Individuals are now expected to shoulder relief expenses that used to be shared publicly. Victims are faced with long-term, unexpected economic consequences as well as displacement from the communities they call home.
This report was compiled based on observations made at a community meeting in Midland Beach, Staten Island on November 18, 2012, as well as on interviews with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Small Business Association (SBA) representatives, legal assistance volunteers, volunteer relief workers, local business owners and community members throughout New York City. Data was drawn from newspaper articles, statements from advocacy organizations and official reports.
The economic costs of the disaster are placed on individuals. Federal aid programs require victims to first apply for loans before qualifying to apply for FEMA aid.
“Aid” programs favor those who can take on debt. Preexisting inequalities are further exacerbated by this form of aid.
Federal programs are inflexible and fail to meet even basic needs of affected individuals and communities.
Relief options are not clearly communicated or well understood. Policies are so complex that even lawyers are confused and are “learning as they go.”
Mold is at a crisis level. Residents will not receive FEMA aid to pay for the mold remediation necessary to make their properties even temporarily livable.
Urgent Call To Action And Bloomberg’s Stealth Visit To An Occupy Sandy Relief Distribution Hub In The Rockaways
New York City’s billionaire mayor, Michael Bloomberg, stepped out of a helicopter midday Thursday in St. Camillus’ parking lot, ironically an Occupy Sandy relief distribution hub in the Rockaways, Queens. The visit had been kept under wraps and not listed on his official schedule. Watch this video, read the statement, and stay informed and pledge your support for the communities most affected by Sandy that are still in dire need! We are planning a day of action on December 15th. Join us!
Bloomberg and a small party accompanying him were whisked off in black cars. He missed a greeting from community members in an area still reeling from Hurricane Sandy, with quickly-lettered signs: “Rockaways in Health Crisis,” “We Need Safer Housing.” Bloomberg made his way to the still-shuttered offices of The Wave, the Rockaways weekly newspaper. As word spread about the stealth visit, a crowd gathered outside hoping to explain those signs to the mayor: a month after Sandy hit, swamping homes with seawater, many residents—homeowners and tenants—are still living without electricity, without heat, without working appliances, with black mold taking hold of walls and other surfaces. Temporary housing is desperately needed, absentee landlords must fix their properties.
The mayor emerged behind a row of police, thanked the group, and was quickly driven away—avoiding a repeat of his November 4 visit when residents lambasted him for ignoring them.
THE CRISIS AND STATEMENT
Hurricane Sandy is an ongoing tragedy that for many people is only getting worse.
Residents, community organizations and city, state, and federal agencies must come together to address the IMMEDIATE crisis that is worsening as the weather gets colder.
A month after Hurricane Sandy, thousands remain without electricity, heat, water, healthy food, basic healthcare, adequate housing, or even temporary shelter.
Here is a statement from a group of individuals and residents who have been working in the affected communities with Occupy Sandy:
Long before Sandy hit, New York City already ranked high for homelessness. Now, tens of thousands of New Yorkers have been displaced, while many more are living in unsafe, moldy houses. Many NYCHA residents have been forced to pay full rent while having no heat and, in some cases, no water or electricity for weeks.
There should be an immediate housing plan that addresses their needs; it would include: extending the NYCHA rent credit to cover November and December to account for lost wages and the storm’s true impact; providing sufficient federal disaster relief funding to NYCHA, and employing NYCHA residents for building repairs instead of outsourcing jobs.
A recent census found 2,489 vacancies in 20 City Council districts that could house 200,000 people. In Far Rockaway, there are 384 lots that could be used to set up housing for 31,696 people immediately, keeping families close to their community networks. The City of New York should seize this opportunity to set a global precedent that would address both the immediate crisis as well as create housing for the tens of thousands who were homeless before the storm.
The storm has compounded an already existing health crisis in NYC. Now, families are living in unsafe homes, there is not enough access to primary care physicians, mental health practitioners and health care facilities in affected communities, and it has become even more difficult for those in impacted areas to access healthy food.
FEMA and Red Cross should work with volunteer healthcare infrastructures to set up more clinics to dispense necessary prescriptions and trauma counseling, and should direct money toward supplying healthy food to those in need — instead of canned goods, military rations, and other food high in sodium.
3) SAFETY NET SERVICES
Workers are being or have been deducted pay from jobs they cannot physically get to, many are unaware of FEMA benefits and deadlines, and private insurers are denying many claims. The Red Cross should dedicate some of its Sandy recovery funds to public information campaigns that inform employers and employees of their rights and what services are available. FEMA should be out canvassing neighborhoods with interpreters in order to ensure that all individuals impacted by the storm know their rights. FEMA should also organize weekly or twice weekly mass mailings for a minimum of four weeks, distributing leaflets in multiple languages, notifying people of available assistance and pertinent deadlines.
Already many residents are being denied FEMA assistance because they have insurance while their insurance companies are denying claims. The Attorney General should immediately intervene on behalf of residents who are unable to make repairs and in danger of losing everything because of these discrepancies.
4) TRANSPARENCY AND COMMUNITY INCLUSION
The influx of relief money coming into the region provides an opportunity for healthy, environmentally sustainable rebuilding with the inclusion of communities and community-based organizations.
We call for a public task force to monitor the use of funds and create structures that encourage community participation to help sustainably rebuild NYC in a way that prepares for today’s environmental challenges.
STAY INFORMED AND TAKE ACTION
From the start, Occupy Wall Street has always been a disaster recovery effort propelled by the power of the people to rebuild a better future. We, along with our many allies, have been dedicated to more than just addressing economic inequality. We believed, and continue to believe, that New York City can reverse its role as the capitol of economic inequality, homelessness and corporate control over our democracy, and become a model for addressing the needs of its residents while promoting their dignity and ability to help shape our future.
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, yet again we see both an opportunity and a threat. As Hurricane Katrina showed, moments of devastation and rebuilding can lead to the return of the status quo, or worse — gentrification, displacement and continued privatization of basic services and jobs.
We are dedicated to seeing that that does not happen here in New York City.
And we are dedicated to ensuring participation and transparency in this process.
We know another world is possible and we are committed to working with our neighbors to build it.
STAND WITH US!
We are planning a day of action on December 15th. To stay informed about this issue or to join us on the 15th, please fill out this form.