Ten years after Hurricane Sandy, New York Communities for Change and Rockaway Women for Progress joined community members in Arverne on Almeda Avenue for a vigil honoring those lost in the storm and demanding justice for those still recovering from Sandy a decade later. Among signs that read “10 Years After… Unrecovered” and “Sandy Survivors Demand Community Engagement,” vigil attendees heard from speakers Donna Simbo, a local homeowner whose home is still not safe to live in, and Theresa Cruz, whose mother is Simbo’s neighbor and at age 92 is still unable to move back into her home, while still paying property taxes and insurance on an empty and damaged house.
A tour of the conjoined homes highlighted an unstable foundation, cracking walls, unsafe construction, and dirt and mold. Arlene Phipps, another Arverne resident who runs a daycare, also spoke about her continuing challenges to get help after Sandy. Religious faith leaders including Pastors Eastman and Margareth and representatives from New York Communities for Change and Rockaway Women for Progress spoke to the importance of helping those left behind by Sandy recovery efforts and of taking timely action to ensure that this does not happen again. A representative from Senator James Sanders office also spoke.
White flowers held by participants honored the lives lost due to the storm. Some attendees expressed their frustrations with elected and government representatives and a lack of financial transparency of the recovery efforts. The organizations want Governor Hochul to know that more needs to be done because there will be stronger storms coming. As Donna Simbo said, “Governor Hochul should cut pollution to stop climate change, so this won’t get worse. She needs to help all the people who have been left behind here. It’s ten years later now and people are still hurting. We need a Green New Deal that helps us all. She should tax the rich to pay for it.”