Diane Sawyer and ABC News report as Hurricane Sandy hits the eastern coast of the United States.
For the last 30 years New York officials were warned of a storm of historic proportions that could flood the subways, create widespread power outages, and hit the Rockaways peninsula especially hard. A 2006 report read: “It’s not a question of whether a strong hurricane will hit New York City. It’s just a question of when.” But tight budgets meant the warnings went unheeded—and when Hurricane Sandy hit, many of the problems were dealt with on the fly. “I don’t know that anyone believed it,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told the Associated Press. “We had never seen a storm like this. So it is very hard to anticipate something that you have never experienced.”
"It wasn't as if the legislative actions over the years were subtle. They all had a common, emphatic theme: Act immediately before it's too late.
The 1978 executive law required a standing state Disaster Preparedness Commission to meet at least twice a year to create and update disaster plans. It mandated the state to address temporary housing needs after a disaster, create a detailed plan to restore services, maintain sewage treatment, prevent fires, assure generators "sufficient to supply" nursing homes and other health facilities, and "protect and assure uninterrupted delivery of services, medicines, water, food, energy and fuel."
Reports in 2005, 2006 and 2010 added urgency. "It's not a question of whether a strong hurricane will hit New York City," the 2006 Assembly report warned. "It's just a question of when."
A 2010 task force report to the Legislature concluded: "The combination of rising sea level, continuing climate change, and more development in high-risk areas has raised the level of New York's vulnerability to coast storms. ... The challenge is real, and sea level rise will progress regardless of New York's response."'
New York City had taken some concrete steps, such as requiring some new developments in flood zones to be elevated, eliminating roadblocks to putting boilers and electrical equipment above the ground and restoring wetlands as natural storm-surge barriers.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a recent speech that the city wasn't expecting Sandy, and that FEMA (The Federal Emergency Management Agency) had estimated only a one percent chance that NYC would see the water levels that came in with the storm. NYC is now reassessing safety measures, including an engineering analysis to determine if levees or other structures are needed to prevent flooding in the future.
A wealthy Missouri man posing as "Secret Santa" stunned New Yorkers recently, handing $100 bills to many in Staten Island who had lost everything to Superstorm Sandy.
The Kansas City businessman is giving away $100,000 this holiday season, and spent the day in New Jersey and New York giving away thousands. But he says money is not the issue.
"The money is not the point at all," said the anonymous benefactor as he walked up to surprised Staten Island residents and thrust crisp bills into their hands. "It's about the random acts of kindness. I'm just setting an example, and if 10 percent of the people who see me emulate what I'm doing, anybody can be a Secret Santa!"
At a stop at a Staten Island Salvation Army store, one woman is looking over a $4 handbag. "But you get $100!" he tells her, offering the bill.
"Are you serious?" said Prudence Onesto, her eyes widening. "Really?"
"Secret Santa," he deadpans, breaking into a broad grin.
The unemployed woman opened her arms and offered him a hug.
Another woman sobbed, and then explained through tears that her granddaughter was having surgery, and she didn't have money for transporation to visit her until she ran into "Secret Santa."
In the days following Superstorm Sandy the Occupy Wall Street movement quickly mobilized their network bringing thousands of volunteers, donations, hot meals, and medical aide to the hardest hit areas. Working under the name 'Occupy Sandy' the group is comprised of both activists and new members who are simply looking to volunteer their time for a good cause. While the Occupy movement is excited to be playing a more direct role in community engagement, they are not losing sight of their political agenda.
If you missed Wednesday night's guerilla premiere of academy-award nominated director Josh Fox's new film "Occupy Sandy: A Human Response to the New Realities of Climate Change," you can watch it in its entirety above.
What Action can you take RIGHT NOW?
Join the Occupy Sandy efforts by visiting the website to plug in! OccupySandy.org
Together we can recover from Hurricane Exxon Mobil
Call Cuomo and tell him to BAN Drilling and Fracking for Natural Gas in NY State! NO MORE FOSSIL FUEL DEVELOPMENT!
(518) 474-8390 or mail:
The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224
This Mini-documentary was shot on the afternoon of election day at St. Camillus Church and the surrounding areas in Far Rockaway, Queens.
The lights are on in Manhattan, and Far Rockaway is still dark, cold and isolated. A public health crisis looms ominously over the community as winter temperatures intensify. After being in the field, it's fairly clear that Occupy is the only major outside presence with a long-term commitment to Rockaway Community.
Please consider helping communities affected by Sandy.
"Like" Occupy Sandy Relief NYC for up-to-date info on volunteer opportunities:
No strangers to rough weather, thousands of New Yorkers who participated in the Occupy movement have mobilized to pack supplies, organize drivers and cook meals for those affected by Superstorm Sandy. NBC's Katy Tur reports.
This webcast is an amazing thing to witness. @OccupySandy teaming up with a biker club to clean up homes in New York's Staten Island ravaged by the hurricane. Doing what FEMA can't, or won't. The Occupy Sandy movement has been fascinating to watch in action, many of the volunteers are experienced in just this sort of effort after aiding recovery efforts in NOLA after Katrina, and in Haiti after the earthquake. After being declared "dead" and "without purpose" by the media, this leaderless volunteer movement showed the world what community activism really means, and what the ability to mobilize at a moment's notice can accomplish.
In the video below, brief interviews with a few Occupy Sandy volunteers. This is Jacobi Church in Sunset Park where the volunteers are gathering and organizing the donations.