Bill Thompson Says He’s With Rockaway
But we cannot secure that promise of opportunity if some communities are left fending for themselves when storms and disasters strike. When hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers were left in the cold and dark, or lost their homes, the last thing we needed to worry about was running a marathon.
Forty-three New Yorkers lost their lives due to Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath. Thousands of families lost their homes and their livelihoods. Seniors and people with disabilities in public housing and highrises along the water were trapped for days and weeks. And hundreds of business owners – many of whom live and work in the Rockaways – saw a lifetime of work washed away.
As Mayor, I will make sure communities in the Rockaways – and all along our waterfront – receive the same attention and resources as corporations on Wall Street or businesses on Fifth Avenue. This means improving transportation in the Rockaways, including the continuation of ferry service and exploring the reactivation of the Rockaway Beach LIRR line. It also means rebuilding a new and better boardwalk, while increasing transparency so that residents can see how federal dollars are being spent on Sandy-related projects.
We also must prepare for tomorrow. Climate change is real and storms like Sandy are only going to become more frequent. By the 2050s, scientists predict that onequarter of the city will become a flood zone.
As Mayor, I will focus on the recovery effort from day one. I will create a Deputy Mayor for Infrastructure and Construction. He or she will help integrate billions in post-Sandy Federal aid into long-term city planning and help oversee the moderncontinued ization and hardening of our existing power, sewage and telecommunication systems. We cannot allow relief efforts to stall or be sidetracked because we cannot effectively communicate in real time with areas that are disaster-stricken.
Here’s my plan to make sure we protect communities like the Rockaways and help families and small business owners get back to their lives after disaster strikes:
1. Invest in Natural, Cost Effective Barriers and Immediate Protections: I will work to increase beach replenishment to prevent further beach erosion and expand and extend dune systems in the Rockaways and restore wetlands in Jamaica Bay that act as natural barriers. These steps will help protect the city from the effects of storm surge and can be more quickly built at far lower cost.
2. Prevent Gas Shortages and Long Lines after Storms. I will work with federal partners to suspend maritime laws, which blocked barges from delivering fuel to struggling communities and first responders. Suspending the Jones Act during emergencies would mitigate the impact of gasoline shortages – like the 15-days of gas rationing after Sandy – in the aftermath of future storms.
3. Launch new "Bringing Businesses Back" Initiative. I will help restore small businesses as economic engines, by providing them with more access to resources, loan information, insurance, planning, information and education so that more businesses stay open after the next storm.
4. Work with Federal Officials on Fixing Biggert-Waters Act. As Mayor, I will work with Senators Schumer and Gillibrand as well our Congressional delegation on flood insurance issues. The Mayor has a big microphone, and I plan to use it to fight for homeowners along our waterfront to access affordable insurance premiums.
Together, these steps will help communities and businesses in the Rockaways recover and come back stronger than ever. That's what I want for every community in every borough. Because even though New York City is the biggest city in the United States, we're also a closeknit community. We watch out for each other. And in the days after the storm, our closeness became even more apparent.
Let me say this plainly - as Mayor, I will honor your hard work and spirit in kind. I'll be right here working with you in the face of any emergency. I'll fight for you - and every community - when disaster strikes so that the promise of opportunity stays strong for our families and communities.