More than a month has passed since Superstorm Sandy devastated areas of Staten Island and other parts of the city. But Sandy did more than just wash out foundations, scatter sand on roadways, and uproot trees. It also broke fences – literally and metaphorically. Neighbors who previously didn’t know each other held barbecues for volunteers and fellow flood victims. People shared stories and gave a helping hand to do everything from disassembling furniture for disposal to digging out tax documents from waterlogged sheds. Bicycle-riding groups known to many residents only as “hipsters” or “scoffaws” came down from comfortable neighborhoods untouched by flood waters to cut through traffic and make deliveries that couldn’t be made by car. Even the Occupy Wall Street group was welcomed to create an “Occupy Sandy” volunteer center.
While some Staten Islanders continue demolishing moldy sheet rock and clean out basements, others have moved on to talking about what’s next for affected residents. What plans can we come up with to avoid a repeat of the tragedy? With both global (climate change) and local (road networks and flood protection) concerns in mind, Staten Island Mobility Solutions intends to drive the conversation about how Staten Island residents and visitors can build a better way to get around – in both emergencies and normal times.
Designed in the “car is king” era – but then thrown to its own devices, as many transportation links remained unbuilt – Staten Island is unique in its transportation problems. As New York City’s smallest borough by population, it’s has also never been a priority for City Hall. Despite the attention brought by the hurricane, it is unlikely the city will bring forward the resources needed to create a detailed infrastructure improvement plan for the Island. As in the past, Staten Islanders have only themselves to count on to create such a plan. Will you step up to help us do it?