Mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio visited Rockaway yesterday, touring the closed Peninsula Hospital, visiting a family who continues to work on post-Sandy repairs to their home and attending a forum hosted by Faith in New York at St. Mary Star of the Sea in Far Rockaway. Although Rockaway has progressed greatly in recovering from Sandy, much work remains. Many residents and businesses continue repairing their damaged property and reorganizing their lives as the city and federal governments repair infrastructure and contemplate future steps.
Rockaway has long had severe financial and social stresses, with some sections as rough and impoverished as any in the city. Those rougher sections of Rockaway happen to have an ocean beach, but they’re weighed down by the same troubles as neighborhoods in less bucolic locations. Everyone in Rockaway, whatever their economic status, race and ethnicity or political views, was severely affected by Sandy and has faced great challenges in struggling to recover. Unsurprisingly, however, those on the down side of Rockaway’s long standing economic and social fault lines faced Sandy with the least; the least money, the least ability to relocate, the least political influence, the fewest options, and have been the slowest to recover. It was this part of Rockaway that de Blasio visited yesterday.
Press Q & A:
Following the forum, de Blasio spoke with the press.
Here are two excerpts covering Rockaway-specific questions. The first, from Kevin Boyle of The Wave, addresses the dramatic increases in flood insurance resulting from the Biggert-Waters Act.
The second, from Katie Honan of DNAinfo and co-founder of Rockaway Help, addresses the hospital crisis in Rockaway following the closing of Peninsula Hospital and the current stress on Rockaway’s sole remaining hospital, St. John’s Episcopal.
Here is de Blasio’s full Q&A with the press, including his opening statement describing his visit.
Update – Forum on Sandy Recovery:
In his remarks at the forum on Hurricane Sandy recovery, hosted by Faith In New York, de Blasio called for an expansive use of Sandy recovery money. He advocated addressing many of Rockaway’s long standing social and economic issues, calling it “our obligation … to figure out how much good we can do with the resources that we’re receiving, and not just in the narrow sense of helping people immediately in need, but how can we change the structure of things.” Here are selected excerpts from his comments.