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Posts from the ‘City of New York’ Category

Interview with Carlos Menchaca, liaison to Speaker Christine Quinn

"It took two weeks for full earnest visibility from the government. The trailers started showing up and you saw FEMA in a larger way. They trickled in for sure but their ambitions and their plug into the community was not where I expected them to be. And their nimbleness is clearly not at all possible. So I would say in two weeks we finally saw some support where the first two weeks we were really battling it out as a team of volunteers. And some of the liaisons through the government were really real major government institutional support. What you also saw were people coming out of the woodwork with things that were very important. Like somebody in the community owned a warehouse near the neighborhood, instantly everyone got that information and sent everything that was coming in to that warehouse. So that became a warehouse station, the distribution spots, the churches started coming online as distribution sites happily. And so those things were all in place with volunteers and private help which is a great feeling but it wasn’t a great feeling when two weeks later the ambulances finally show up to the public housing. And we had already created a popup medical clinic in one of our locations that were servicing 200 plus home bound senior citizens and non senior citizens but mostly senior citizens. And we were doing this all within our own means."

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Interview with resident of Coney Island

"Well I’m not particularly close to anyone in my building even though I’ve been here 12 years there’s one woman who lives across from me who I consider like a mother. I look out for her but when the storm happened we started looking out for each other. We were like what do you need, you need water, you need this, whatever we had somebody could have. I was giving people money, I saw people who lived on the first floor, if I had an extra $5 or $10 I’d give it to them, they needed something to eat I would give it to them because I had money so I didn’t mind."

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Interview with Justin Wedes, Occupy Sandy volunteer

"Responding to people in need was exactly the calling of Occupy Wall Street-- to be the first people on the ground in our communities to stand up and say we’re not waiting for FEMA, we’re not waiting for the mayor’s office, we’re not waiting for the Red Cross or for Wall Street or for anybody to come and save us. The cavalry isn’t coming, the cavalry is us. And so we immediately put out the call and there wasn’t an infrastructure formally in place to receive that volunteerism, to receive that support so we built it on the spot. I mean literally three days I spent trapped in my room, I didn’t leave, I didn’t sleep much at all I just sat by my computer and frantically built websites and Google voice accounts and communicated with disaster relief experts and countless phone calls to organizers on the ground who were driving around in trucks and the Rockaways, we pay accounts and just a flurry of infrastructure, online infrastructure and offline too that we were setting up. And it happened organically because we didn’t descend on communities, we emerged from within them and these are our neighbors, these are our friends, these are our family members."

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Interview with Cecil Scheib, Managing Director for the NYC Building Resiliency Task Force

"Well there’s several levels of building resilience. So one thing that our current code handles very comprehensively is that a building be resilient enough that after an event, people can get out of it safely. They can safely evacuate. So generally that’s defined as 90 minutes, maybe two hours. What makes the resiliency effort different for New York City is that we’re trying to lengthen the amount of time that the building could be habitable so that people are not forced to evacuate. And this is important for a couple of reasons. One is people do not like to leave their homes—they’re worried about looting, they’re worried about safety, they don’t have places to go. So they like to stay home. And we saw after Sandy, a lot of people living in unsafe conditions because they did not want to leave. Second, the city only has limited capability to actually shelter people—you know, at shelters—and so the more people you can keep in a building, you know, the easier it is for the city to handle the people that really don’t have any option. So one level is just the emergency egress and just getting out safely. Another level might be what we call survivability."

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