Center for American Progress

How to Help Low-Income Communities in the Face of Extreme Weather

How to Help Low-Income Communities in the Face of Extreme Weather

A new CAP report discusses how natural disasters affect low-income communities and expose their underlying socioeconomic problems.

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On October 29, 2012, Superstorm Sandy hit the northeastern United States and became the deadliest and largest Atlantic hurricane of the year and the second costliest in U.S. history after Hurricane Katrina. Heeding the lessons that emerged from the blundered response to Katrina in New Orleans in 2005, the federal government was quick to react to Sandy with Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, officials arriving throughout the region and President Barack Obama surveying the damage from the ground.

Despite the quick response, however, many low-income residents of the region continued to face dire circumstances. Many low-income elderly and disabled residents of New York City’s public housing complexes were stranded in their apartments for weeks after the storm due to elevator outages. Other residents remained in the high rises, despite having no heat or power, because they had nowhere else to go or no means of getting out of their neighborhood. 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.

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