2013-09-20 / Columnists

Eye On Rockaway

HUD Sidesteps Rockaway
by Miriam Rosenberg

The one year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy is almost upon us. I have been asked for stories from those on the east end for a commemorative issue of The Wave, and I want to hear directly from residents and business owners. What are your memories? Was your home or business flooded out? How long were you without electricity? How far have you come since? What still needs to be done? What were your experiences getting help, especially from FEMA? Email me at mrosenberg@rockawave.com.

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Well it seems that Rockaway is once again being put in a secondary role. Rebuild by Design was put together as a result of President Obama’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force. It is described as a competition of 10 multidisciplinary design teams of some of the world’s most talented design professionals who are being asked “to envision solutions that increase resilience across Sandy-affected areas.”

This is where the first round of meetings was located: Trinity Place in Manhattan (on September 12th); Asbury Park, New Jersey (September 18th); Staten Island (September 26th); and Bridgeport, Connecticut (October 5th).

Notice any place missing? Yep, one of the hardest hit places – Rockaway. Now I am not saying the places listed are not worthy of hosting a meeting. But, come on. Fires, floods. Rockaway was a disaster zone that even 60 Minutes spent time covering. Something is very wrong here. The Wave’s editor, Kevin Boyle, emailed to ask why there was no Rockaway meeting scheduled. Here is their answer: ”Thank you for your email and interest in Rebuild by Design. Rockaway is one of the few locations that the design teams will be visiting. Though the format of their visit will be different from the open community sessions outlined below, we welcome your input on stakeholders to meet with and the sites to visit. Additionally, the meetings below are only the first in a more comprehensive engagement process. Please stayed tuned in as Rebuild by Design continues. In coming weeks we will also be launching an online platform for participation.”

They finish by saying “We’d be happy to hear your thoughts.”

They’ll be happy to hear our thoughts, just not as a community. Instead of hearing from the community as a whole, they want to pick and choose who they speak with when they do finally come out here.

That is not good enough. If they are going to Staten Island, another place with limited transportation and isolated, they could have a community meeting here. There are so many things that are unique to Rockaway that only input from the entire community will suffice. It is good they are doing an onsite visit here. While the teams, who hopefully come together, are visiting Rockaway a community meeting should be called to hear directly from any resident who wants to address them.

The email invitation to the meetings from Rebuild by Design says, “Your personal experiences related to Hurricane Sandy’s impact on your neighborhood and the events that followed will serve as essential underpinning for the teams’ research and design.”

Show that they mean it by scheduling a community meeting in Rockaway.

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