The weather’s been up and down in Gotham. Nearly 60 degrees one day and then freezing the next. Several days ago we had a glorious day and I decided to take a drive to the Broad Channel for a look-see.
This might just be the most peculiar neighborhood in Queens, and not just because it sits smack in the middle of the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, surrounded by water on all sides. It’s connected to the rest of the borough by two bridges and one subway. The bridges offer magnificent views of the bay. The entire community is about twenty blocks long from north-to-south and four blocks wide from east-to-west. Man-made canals have been dug which separate the dead-end residential streets. Residents tend to love their boats and many have them moored in the canals.
Broad Channel’s mostly middle-class residents tend to be stalwart and have made a definite commitment to live here. There is no natural gas line running into the community which forces home owners to use more costly propane to heat their houses and to cook in their kitchens. With water everywhere the eye can see, as might be supposed this is an area prone to flooding.
It goes without saying Broad Channel was hit hard by Super Storm Sandy. Most of the residents have pretty much recovered. Life seems to be bustling. Stores and restaurants are open and doing business. The outside of homes in most of the community are in good shape. I did see one man with the outside of his house in tact, carrying lumber into the interior. I saw renovated houses with debris in the back yards.
Some residents have not fared so well. Either they didn’t have the financial resources to rebuild so quickly, or the damage to their homes was too extensive. Still, all of the houses I saw needing repair had permits nailed to the outside and their owners were doing their level best to bring them back.
Not everyone seemed happy with the government’s efforts to help the community. Several homes had “STOP FEMA NOW” signs prominently displayed in their front windows.
Residents are outraged by the new federal law, the Biggert-Waters Act which astronomically raises flood insurance rates for the purpose of keeping FEMA afloat. However, FEMA was supposed to do a feasibility study that was never done and the fed seems to be cherry picking how they will implement the law.
This tempest in a teapot goes far beyond the Broad Channel with senators from Massachusetts, Oregon, and Louisiana vociferously questioning FEMA.
The larger question seems to me to be should a politician be held to promises made before an election? Many who are in the political game as a career believe politicians who tell the truth do not get elected or re-elected. When do the American people want to hear the truth: before or after an election? Before or after a crisis? Eventually the truth will come out. Your elected official isn’t gonna do what was promised. When that happens why not throw the bum out. And here’s a novel idea: don’t vote for the guy who promises pie in the sky. Vote for the realist. Look for a candidate with a record of success in government, business. Vote for a candidate whose word is good.
However the debate on Biggert-Waters turns out, the fact remains that one year after Sandy, residents of New York City who were most hit are still struggling. The federal government promised the sun, moon, and the sky prior to the presidential election, which they obviously have not delivered. The Red Cross pulled out long ago. Now it’s mostly neighbor helping neighbor. Local churches and the Salvation Army have been at the forefront.
If you want to help contact…
Occupy Sandy. This was the name given to the recovery effort in its first days and it now has a website. http://occupysandy.net/
The Salvation Army New York City still has boots on the ground. http://www.use.salvationarmy.org/use/www_use_GNYD.nsf/vw-dynamic-index/7E58E6D68DAB0CA0852579AC00520BEA?openDocument