Kelsey Holdway- Case Study, Submitted 10/21/15
Comparing Hurricane Katrina and Super-storm Sandy
When Super-storm Sandy hit the Northeast United States the effects could be related to what happened in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. Many parallels can be noticed when looking at the effects of these two storms on low income residents. In both storms, public housing residents could not leave their apartments because they had nowhere to go or lacked the accessibility to get out. After the storm people had nowhere to go and had no job because businesses had been shut down or destroyed. This caused low income residents to suffer the most because they have no income that can temporarily assist them in getting back on track. They look to federal programs to assist them. The programs do help many low income residents, however, the amount is not enough for them to be able to reclaim their normal lives.
As noticed in Hurricane Katrina, public housing residents were trapped in the apartments because they had nowhere else to go. Many low income residents did not have cars to leave New Orleans or had nowhere to go, the city did little on their end to evacuate everyone and give them assistance (Arena, 2012). During Super-storm Sandy some public housing residents were trapped in apartments; elevators in some public housing apartments did not work so many elderly and disabled residents were confined to the small apartment. The article also states that many other low income residents stayed in their high rises simply because they had nowhere else to go. “In other parts of the region, low-income people were unable to make it to food stamp centers for assistance. The estimated cost of the destruction wrought by Sandy was $65 billion, with low-income households greatly impacted” (Ross, 2013, p.1).
The inequality of low income residents can be examined through the unemployment assistance; after a disaster many places of business are destroyed or closed for repair, therefore people do not have any place to work. The Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) gave assistance to residents who would not quality for normal unemployment benefits, however, the actual benefits they received were still too low. This could be shown as the only reasonable option for someone in public housing, especially in New Orleans. Many of the states surrounding the victims had a higher cost of living, therefore, it was likely that many people were not able to just leave and find a job and housing. This could be paralleled to New York and New Jersey after Super-storm Sandy. New York lost 29,100 private jobs while New Jersey also lost 8,100 jobs (Ross, 2013, p.15). The DUA also does not help as much here because often time’s salary workers are not helped. The business could be open, but as the article stated, it is on the worker if they cannot make it to work after the storm (Ross, 2013). Overall, unemployment assistance after disasters do not fully aid low income residents. It may look as if there are great programs set in place to assist, however, often times the assistance is less than what they had before.
After Super-storm Sandy hit in New York, the city relied on volunteers and other community based organizations to assist low income housing residents. It had been stated that it was the responsibility of The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to provide assistance and help to public housing authorities and other organizations to make sure the public housing residents are safe during disasters. There was poor quality in the housing that low income residents were living in which argues that the HUD and other organizations did not actually fully prepare public housing and the residents (Ross,2013). This can also be shown in Hurricane Katrina, after the storm the public housing authorities did not help the low income residents. The city had their own agenda to destroy public housing and get the people out of that part of town. The city left it up to community based organizations and members of the community to rebuild their lives; displaying that the public housing authorities and other parties associated with public housing did not put much effort into helping low income residents.
Overall, both Hurricane Katrina and Super-storm Sandy had similar complications occur in public housing and with low income residents; it can be shown that low income residents are at a higher percent of inequality when it comes to aid after disasters. States and local governments seem to focus on the community while looking past public housing areas when it comes to rebuilding and fixing the city; they leave it up to community based organizations and nonprofits to serve as a temporary assistance for low income residents of the areas. Both address the vulnerability of low income communities during and after disasters and how they are often overlooked by the state when it is time to rebuild the community.
Arena, J. (2012). Driven from New Orleans. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Ross, T. (2013). A Disaster in the Making (1st ed.). Center for American Progress. Retrieved from https://www.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/LowIncomeResilience-3.pdf