Hurricane Sandy hit New York on October 29, 2012, flooding tens of thousands of homes, knocking out power and killing dozens. Make the Road New York worked with residents in the hard hit areas of Long Island, including Long Beach and Mastic Beach, and Staten Island, especially Midland Beach, where we opened a new office.
Staten Island is home to New York City’s fastest growing Mexican community. Thirty percent of that borough’s residents speak a language other than English at home, according to the US Census. The immigrant population of Long Island is also growing rapidly: In Nassau County, 28 percent of residents speak a language other than English at home.
Working class immigrant communities were particularly devastated by Sandy. Lack of multilingual staff at official relief sites meant that early help was inaccessible to those with limited English. Citizenship status limited some immigrants’ ability to claim benefits like FEMA aid. A year after the storm, many continue to struggle to find new jobs and homes.
Make the Road New York continues to work on multiple fronts, providing legal assistance, training workers for new jobs and organizing for more just rebuilding policies. We have connected 2,000 families to aid, provided legal services to more than 400 families and- in partnership with the Asbestos Lead and Hazardous Waste Laborers’ Local 78 – designed and launched a new mold remediation program that creates good jobs for immigrant workers, to name a few highlights. But much remains to be done.
In 2014, we will continue to advance our vision for a just rebuilding. We will advocate for policies to assist renters, both documented and undocumented. We will organize at the grassroots to ensure that newly rebuilt neighborhoods are affordable to working families. Our lawyers will continue to defend the most vulnerable Sandy survivors: exploited day laborers, low-income homeowners and displaced immigrant families.
We thank our funders for their generous support of our Sandy work: AARP Foundation, Alliance for a Just Rebuilding/ ALIGN, Alliance for a Just Society, Center for Disaster Philanthropy, Cricket Island Foundation, Durst Family Foundation, Edouard Foundation, EILEEN FISHER, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, Ford Foundation, Freddie Mac Community Relations Donor Assisted Fund, Edward W. Hazen Foundation, JPB Foundation, Long Island Community Foundation, Mary J. Hutchins Foundation, Marty Tomberg Charitable Fund, Mertz Gilmore Foundation, MoveOn.org members, New York Bar Foundation, New York Foundation, New York Women’s Foundation, North Star Fund, Robin Hood Foundation, Surdna Foundation and hundreds of individual MRNY donors.