Sandy: 1 Year On and “Sandy Culture”

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Sandy Photo courtesy of NOAA.

I know today will affect a lot of people in a lot of different ways.

For those of you who are still fighting the battles, still not home, still not whole: I want you to know that I still stand with you and I know that this is far from over for many many people.

I know many would rather not think about it, and I respect that , and I would be remiss not to mark the date today.

In all of this there is one thing that stands out to me that, if anything, is a silver lining:

The disaster and aftermath prompted an entire movement of people, who previously were not necessarily civically or politically involved, to positive action.

I definitely have an affinity with these people because I see myself the same way. I’m not necessarily (believe it or not from all these posts) politically involved but just like this blog, when I saw nobody else doing things that needed to be done, I stepped up to do them just like so many other people did. Mine were just small contributions like many many other people did. I take no special credit for that, but there are special people out there that have really done quite a lot.

Groups and the people involved that come to mind that emerged or grew :

Mohawk Ave Saint
SOS LI/NY
Project Pay it Forward
Project 11561
Long Beach, NY Hurricane Information
Oceanside, NY Hurricane Sandy Updates
Sandy Help LB
Long Beach Matters to You

And many others. Thank you all.
Some provided sweat and action, others a lifeline of information no one else was providing.

You helped many, many more people than otherwise would have been helped, put lives back together and put the storm as behind us as it could be.

These people, mostly with no experience and no political aspirations, did many many things that they never dreamed that they would do. In some cases some had to just “do something” to make a difference. Not just a few people- hundreds of people, maybe thousands.

I think, sometimes the ball just drops in your lap and you gotta decide to run with it!

There are entire new channels of information from hurricane restoration and new community groups around the area through social media of a kind not seen before with a devout following.

And as an outsider who wasn’t drastically hurt by Sandy Id like to coin a phrase which has been floating in my brain for 6 months for all of this which I think is a “Sandy Culture” has arisen.

For good or bad it’s a public awareness. Admittedly, some of it is just self-pity, some is just venting frustrations and emotions, some of it is self promotion, but most of it is just genuine, heartfelt, shared community and civic experience. It’s neighbors looking out for neighbors. Its a fact-of-life kind of way life is now in the aftermath. Everything has changed.

I think the famous quote is you can make the future anything you want except the way things were.

Maybe this is the next best thing.

Who are some heroes you know of ?

The Abandoned

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Just in case you didn’t see the signs for 6 weeks; the 4 emails from the Point Lookout Civic Association or any of the town and other notices, social media, church missals, etc, your abandoned goods from the beach hut have been evicted and are pending for garbage pick up.

Of course a few years ago was the one year I didn’t pick up my literally days old chairs by the third week of September and they got tossed that year. So, hats off to Fran and everyone else at the Town of Hempstead for their patience this year.

If you grabbed all the broken items there and wore them for Halloween could you pass for Jabba the Beach Hut? Ba dum bum cha.

Report:NY Rising Public Outreach Meeting

Lido Beach and Point Lookout group:
http://stormrecovery.ny.gov/nyrcr/community/lido-beach-and-point-lookout

NY Rising FAQ :
http://stormrecovery.ny.gov/nyrcr/faq

I was all on board and ready to publish pretty much whatever they wanted to get out, and then… I found I could not.

The Report

Tuesday, October 15, 2013 was the initial Lido Beach and Point Lookout “Public Engagement Meeting” from the New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program being administered by Sustainable Long Island.

The local committee of this is made up of local leaders of civic associations and other groups including Point Lookout Civic Association, Lido Homes Civic Association, Lido Dunes Civic Association and other local residents.

Several dozen additional residents in attendance from Lido and Point Lookout, myself included, participated in discussions to help hone in on what our public assets are, what needs to be fixed, and other strategies that could be developed for dealing with future emergencies.

The resident groups were tasked with choosing a mission statement and the far greater majority supported the one that took the extra step of creating future resiliencies against emergencies and disasters. The groups identified local assets and needs on a map of the area. Then they discussed what the problems were and what needed to be worked on.

Some great ideas and insights were forwarded by residents. NYS Rising and Sustainable LI are going to figure out what is feasible to do and what can be done.

It was good that this involves both Lido and Point Lookout communities which are tied together by the school system, water system and fire departments. It was good to reach beyond just our town and to help people understand each other.

There were numerous areas of agreement and forward looking ideas.

In these meetings it was also very obvious that, at least the perceived needs of each of the communities seem drastically different. Lido Beach residents continually mentioned they need to be protected from sewage backups and flooding coming up from storm drains during any future storms.

Point Lookout people were mainly concerned about flooding on the bay side of town and revetment of the North End of Jones Inlet where we had the most flooding.

Both groups are talking about infrastructure projects that will require millions of dollars and do need to be done. Unfortunately we’re only looking at $3 million here for our two communities representing something near 8 miles of coastline and bayfront.

But, we are being told that our ideas may get acted on if future monies become available.

It was obvious we are stronger working together, than apart.

My Take

I was pretty hyped on the situation and wanted to do what I could to help spread the word, as tables went empty, and maybe get more people involved. I was encouraged by people on site there that this would be great.

Let’s face it: People are busy. Can everyone who potentially has answers or great ideas make a meeting right after work hours that was e-blast announced only 4 days in advance?

The first meeting was during daytime business hours. Because of this, the committees are almost entirely retirees and civic association presidents. Nothing wrong with that, and my sincere thank you to all who are working for our community! I believe we should try to include everyone else if possible, but of course not delay for that.

So I figured I would try to help reach out to the rest of our community and let them know how they could find out what is going on, get involved and/or contribute.

I had some questions I could not find the answers to on my own. Those answers would help make that happen.

I know we are working in uncharted territory with all this, and I know people are working hard to make this all a success, so maybe confusion is to be expected.

I just ran into a brick wall.

    Here are the questions I asked- first in person which caused a big runaround, so we agreed it was getting late so they went to email: (these are direct quotes )

  • Where or how can people sign up to be automatically notified of the process, rather than have to seek out the next meetings, updates, information?
  • How can the public follow this process and find where it is at any given time?
  • How might they contribute, add suggestions, find this information.
  • Can residents that didn’t attend fill out any of these forms like the blue comment form from this evening? If so, where can that be found? ( I was told yes to this in person but can find no way to do this )
  • What else can be done to involve the community at large that was not here?
  • Who would be the contact person and how would I contact them to address any further questions about our group?

I thought those were just basic, totally not “loaded” questions toward public outreach, even if I got a pat, political, non-answer of “we’re working on it”.

The official reply was my options (and thus, YOURS) are to

  • “check the website”(already established with them the info isn’t there and still isn’t after 10 days ) ,
  • “like” the NY Rising Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/NYStormRecovery
    (Which covers ALL the communities involved statewide and only after the events. Right now, after 10 days, the only thing is a single picture of the backs of heads at our meeting.),
  • or

  • call the governors office at 518.474.8418

Plus a mention about info being sent to their “distribution list” which my follow up questions what that meant and how others could get on it, sent via reply email were completely unacknowledged.

If anyone has any information or insights to these questions or would like to help me reach out to the community that could not attend, or would like to report to our community information they should know, please update me and everyone else here to get the word out.

Anyone in the Long Beach group, who are ahead of us in the process, have any insights?

I WILL be at the next meeting and WILL publicize that information when I get the notification I signed up to receive.

FOR THE RECORD:
I personally stand to gain NOTHING monetarily from NYS Rising and my only interest is that of my neighbors who need help and the forward going protection of my town from sea level rise, emergencies and storms.
I feel strongly to be involved and speak to protection and preservation and mitigation.
Why ?

I plan to live here a long time.

I want to offer my best suggestions and have my and any other helpful voices heard to protect ourselves, our families, our property and our community for THE FUTURE.
I have no axe to grind against ANYONE involved, in fact I’ve followed and admired Sustainable LI for a long time.