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Community Advocates Begin Report On How City Responded To Hurricane Sandy

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TWC News: Community Advocates Begin Report On How City Responded To Hurricane Sandy
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A wide-ranging group of community leaders, union workers and advocates came together in the Flatiron District of Manhattan on Saturday to talk about what can be learned from how the city recovered from Hurricane Sandy. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.

Long lines at the pump, the complete shutdown of the mass transit system and a storm surge that crushed houses and claimed lives were just some of the consequences of Hurricane Sandy.

On Saturday, the so-called Sandy Regional Assembly gathered in Manhattan's Flatiron District to find out what can be learned from the city's recent struggles.

"When the next storm comes -- and we learned today based upon the presentations that storms are going to be more severe -- they're going to be more frequent. What it means is that we're not prepared," said Kellie Terry-Sepulveda of The Point Community Development Organization.

Those who attended the all-day forum tried to change that by sharing their experiences during the storm and its aftermath. Community and advocacy groups and union leaders for workers affected by Sandy talked about what worked and what didn't.

Marvin Holland, the political director of the Transport Workers Union, said the storm highlighted deficiencies in the mass transit system that already existed and were made that much more obvious as people struggled to get around without the subway.

"Increasing bus service, particularly in the outer boroughs, so coming out of Sandy there's real talk of everyone working together to try to figure out how to move people during a disaster, and on a day-to-day basis as well," Holland said.

Panelists spoke to the group, and breakout sessions allowed participants to talk about what they are still dealing with and what they were surprised by.

Many members of the city's building workers union, Local 32BJ SEIU, could not get to work because of the gas shortage.

"One of the unanticipated consequences was the fact that police had to be deployed to gas stations because there was so much tension at the gas stations," said Lenore Friedlaender of 32BJ SEIU.

The group's findings will eventually be drafted into a report to be given to Governors Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Group organizers hope their findings will better inform how relief money is spent.

"Our charge is to make sure that the most vulnerable communities articulate what the priorities are. And they'll be broad, but so is the recovery itself," said Eddie Bautista of the Environmental Justice Alliance.

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