Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Blog’ Category

Disaster Research Ethics

As Hurricane Harvey hits the United States, research will be important to understand what people need, as well as the underlying social, political, economic, infrastructural, and power dynamics at play. This is particularly important for documenting and reporting in terms of uneven distributions of harm within disasters.

Yet, research is not inherently good. After Sandy hit New York City, we saw disaster researchers parachute into hard hit communities, take data, and leave. We saw researchers interview survivors and report survivor insights as their own findings. This is called research theft, and it is usually done by well-intentioned researchers. It is crucial that research ethics in disasters far exceed the usual research ethics set out by universities and other research institutions.

With community input, the following Memorandum of Understanding was designed after Sandy to be a resource for a mutually beneficial researcher-community or academic-activist partnerships. It covers a number of different types of collaborations and partnerships, as well as various issues that might need discussion.

You can download the Template of Memorandum of Understanding for Mutual Aid Research in Disasters here. 

Also see the stable url on our webpage here. 

“New York’s Two Sandys” published for two-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy

SRL members Daniel Aldana Cohen & Max Liboiron have published a summary and update of The Tale of Two Sandys in the latest edition of Metropoltics in time for the three year anniversary of Sandy's landfall in the region. We summarize the two Sandy framework, and then move on to describe the second Sandy based on recent research by community- and advocacy-based organizations.

Read more

Sandy Storyline seeking researchers and interns

Sandy Storyline is an award winning participatory documentary that collects and shares stories about the impact of Hurricane Sandy. We are seeking a research volunteer or intern to help us research press, reports, data and other information as part of the ongoing post-Sandy recovery.

Read more

Data activism: Occupy Sandy’s canvassing practices after Hurricane Sandy

If activism is about changing the relations, assumptions, and contests pertaining to power, then data activism is about using data as a central tactic to make these changes.  Read more

Occupy Sandy affiliation survey

We are researching how people's affiliations with OWS, Occupy Sandy, and other CBOs and activist groups change over time. The project is meant to show that a metric of success for social movements is how people continue to work in activist/community settings, even after the "end" of public protest. We are looking for people affiliated with Occupy Sandy or OWS to fill out a short, 10 minute survey.

Read more

New report on the roles of activists and community-based organizations after disasters.

The North Star Fund has released, "From the Edge of Disaster: How Activists and Insiders Can Use the Lessons of Hurricane Sandy to Make the City Safer," a research and recommendation report drawing on 30 interviews with community-based organizations (CBOs) and participation in dozens of meetings and conferences across the city over the past two years.

Read more

Public Bibliography on Occupy Sandy

We've created a public bibliography on Occupy Sandy that includes a mix of academic literature, journalism, websites, graphics, documentaries, presentations, and even some internal documents from Occupy Sandy.

Read more

The temporality of disaster

Rather than a teleological climb back to normalcy, there are two ways that many on-the-ground experiences of Sandy create a different temporal pattern. First, people who were relatively resilient and able to deal with adversity before the storm are now vulnerable. Secondly, for populations that were already vulnerable due to poverty, lack of access to health care and education, and precarious employment or housing, not only are they in increasingly dire situations, but a return to "predisaster" normalcy can hardly be called a recovery.

Read more

The cost of risk: the post-Sandy realities of flood insurance

The Biggert-Waters bill addresses the problems of the National Flood Insurance Program in the abstract, but it doesn’t address the problems that actually manifested on the ground when the NFIP went into action. Entrenched inequality, the glacial pace of disbursement, the difficulty of navigating the bureaucratic ocean - these problems were enough to sink families after the storm - if they were eligible for flood insurance in the first place. So what is the point of having the NFIP anyway, when so much of it is apparently broken?

Read more

SRL white paper released: A Tale of Two Sandys

Superstorm Research Lab has just released the first in-depth report aimed on Sandy's aftermath that examines a wide cross-section of post-Sandy perspectives, including policymakers in New York City Hall, individuals whose lives were acutely affected, established NGOs, and community-based organizations like Occupy Sandy. Drawing on over 70 extensive interviews, we have found that two divergent concepts of disaster have lead to different types of response, definitions of recovery, and attention to justice following Hurricane Sandy's landfall in New York City in 2012.

Read more

The cost of risk: why taxpayers foot the bill for flood insurance

There is one tool that helps people understand the financial implications of risk: insurance. Risky behavior means more expensive insurance. Likewise, living in a high-flood-risk area should result in more expensive flood insurance, which will make people less enthusiastic about developing (and living in) high-risk areas. But this only works if (1) the insurance is available and (2) people buy it.

Read more

One Year On

Superstorm Research Lab hosted a public event on Monday, November 11th, featuring an afternoon of workshops and an evening presentation of SRL’s forthcoming white paper, A Tale of Two Sandys.

Read more

Trash, debris, or neither? The Nature of Waste During Disaster

Not only do natural (and unnatural) disasters produce a lot of waste, they are also extreme but oddly quintessential events where practices, behavior, and cultures around waste and wasting, as well as their inverse--repairing, fixing, and rebuilding--move to the fore. The waste produced by disaster comes in all shapes, scales, and degrees of danger. In New York City after Hurricane Sandy, there were four million cubic yards of what is called "disaster debris."

Read more

11/11/13 | Superstorm Research Lab: One Year On |Workshops and Panel

On November 11, 2013, join Superstorm Research Lab and our allies in free, open workshops designed to address past, current, and future problems related to disaster and the complexities of justice on the ground. Workshops will be followed by a panel discussion, "A Tale of Two Sandys," that broadly examines the ways one disaster contains multiple crises, how the nature of a single disaster fundamentally changes over time, and how some forms of aid or notions of recovery can cause new crises, all of which can create new or multiple "Sandys."

Read more

SRL on “The Fantasy of Disaster Response: Governance and Social Action During Hurricane Sandy”

SRL members Max Liboiron and David Wachsmuth have recently published an article on “The Fantasy of Disaster Response: Governance and Social Action During Hurricane Sandy,” in the Sandy-themed issue of Social Text Periscope: "Governments make disaster plans. Between municipal, state, and federal level agencies, the amount of planning for potential disasters is enormous. But during Hurricane Sandy, plans that took several years and millions of dollars to produce were thrown out almost immediately. In fact, discarding disaster plans is entirely normal, and may even be desirable....."

Read more

Tenants: An overlooked vulnerable population in disaster research and recovery

While widespread housing damage from a disaster has happened before in the United States, never has a disaster affected an area so heavily occupied by renters. Almost 70 percent of New Yorkers – double the national average – rent their homes. Yet, they are an often overlooked vulnerable population in disaster response and research. How has this population fared in Sandy’s tumultuous aftermath? And what can we learn from the experiences of renters affected by Hurricane Katrina that can help tenants in New York City recover?

Read more

Sandy Mold Remediation

This year's International Day for Disaster Reduction theme, "Living with Disability and Disasters", focused on some one-billion people around the world living with some form of disability, representing one-fifth of the world' population who are often overlooked. In that spirit, this blog post focuses on mold remediation. Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to conduct an interview with a first responder, who later became a mold remediator, to learn about the specifics and the importance of mold remediation.

Read more

Community Voices on the Recovery: Sandy and the Election, Part 2

How has Hurricane Sandy influenced New York City's mayoral race? It's not totally clear. But we do know that voters in communities hardest hit by Sandy mandate a social resilience platform.

Read more

Some Sandy-hit homeowners don’t want to “Build It Back”

Since Sandy, the dominant narrative has been that people will want to rebuild their homes regardless of future risk. On Staten Island, however, many residents tell a different story. In the neighborhood of Oakwood Beach, for instance, a group of nearly two hundred homeowners met shortly after Sandy and collectively decided they wanted to move, rather than rebuild. Together, they successfully lobbied for a government buyout of the neighborhood. Governor Cuomo declared their homes part of an “enhanced area” that the state will convert to a public park or wetlands to protect from future flooding and storm surge. Soon after Governor Cuomo’s January announcement of his intention to buy out damaged houses, hundreds of other homeowners along the South and East Shores of Staten Island formed groups to press for buyouts in their own areas.

Read more

Community Voices on the Recovery: Sandy and the Election, Part 1

Community groups have already laid out top priorities—for after-Sandy reconstruction and more general disaster preparedness—that warrant both voters’ and candidates’ attention.

Read more