Marcela Maxi's Alternative Spring Break Reflection: Day 3

Marcela Maxi’s Alternative Spring Break Reflection: Day 3

Natural disasters have caused great damage and loss. They come in the forms such as floods, earthquakes and hurricanes and when they happen, recovery, race, and class, public and political response, and climate change play an important role. Through these past three days in Rockaway, Queens, I’ve been given the opportunity to hear testimonies and see how Hurricane Sandy has affected the Newman family and the Rockaway community. So far, we have scrapped and painted two rooms, a hallway, and the staircase of the second floor. The owner expressed so much gratitude and happiness towards everyone for coming to help. She explained how she never expected SBP or anyone to help within these past six years and after having her basement and first floor sank and destroyed, no electricity, no water or access to transportation, she was only ready to move on with her life just last year. Interestingly enough, I found a sea shell stuck between the glass and wood of a tilted window while trying to clean it before painting it with Semi-gloss. Not until that moment, things become a little bit more realistic and I began to understand how climate change contributed to the Newman’s family not making it home sooner.

Climate change leads to a change in the usual weather and to an increase in temperature. It has been caused by many factors including carbon-fossil fuels emissions. Climate change has had the potential for changes in a hurricane’s wind’s speeds to be greater, to be powered by evaporated sea water as heat builds up in the surface of the sea, and its rainfall to be stronger as recently seen in hurricane Harvey in 2017. The impactful thing about these disasters besides property damage and frustration is how private companies profited from Sandy while clients suffered. Turns out these insurance companies that administer the government’s National Flood Insurance Program, a program designed to help in disasters like Sandy, have made millions in profit over the past years due to little oversight from the government. More frustrating is that in a situation like that house owners cannot leave their place because they still have to pay a mortgage.

I cannot imagine my family going through this and I hope that one day families, like the Newman family in Rockaway and other places affected by Hurricane Sandy, fully restore their homes and find tranquility. As a volunteer, I am enjoying the experience and learning new techniques.