Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens

Disaster Response as the New Normal
CCUSA Annual Gathering San Francisco, CA SEPTEMBER 16TH 2013

• Movie clip

Why we play a key role in disaster response – • 105 program sites all over Brooklyn and Queens • Parishes are our primary constituents • Pre-existing relationships with community stakeholders

I. Donations A. Challenges 1. Unsolicited donations of unnecessary items 2. Adequate space to properly store items 3. Transportation of items to needed areas 4. Maintaining supply of certain products

I. Donations A. Challenges 1. Unsolicited donations of unnecessary items 2. Adequate space to properly store items 3. Transportation of items to needed areas 4. Maintaining supply of products

I. Donations B. Response 1. Internal resources a) Communications office posted specific items needed on the agency’s website b) Fiscal office kept track of monies being spent and donated from various sources. c) Used agency vendors to promptly supply needed products ex) food pantry vendors

I. Donations B. Response 2. External resources a) Connected with local partners - E.g.: Agency partner provided transportation to get materials to distribution sites. b) National partners: CCUSA connected us to national resources, e.g. AmeriCares and Feed the Children

I. Donations C. Lesson Learned • To have a supply of basic survival items in nonflood zones

II. Communication A. Challenges 1. Informing community of our disaster services and resources 2. Communication between parishes and on-site staff 3. Difficulty in checking up with clients (seniors and clients with special needs)

II. Communication B. Response 1. Internal resources a) Provided updates of relief sites and services on agency website b) Door to door communication with parishes, residences, etc. c) Utilized staff and volunteers to cover more ground d) Pastor cell phone numbers

II. Communication B. Response 2. External resources a) Utilized preexisting partners and the media to increase awareness of the agency’s services b) Use of social media e.g. face book, twitter, instagram

II. Communication C. Lessons Learned 1. Develop, test, and update contact list where feasible

2. Alternate communication methods e.g. two way radios
3. Establish a central point of contact outside the potential disaster area and make pre-established toll free telephone numbers available for clients.

III. Volunteers A. Challenges 1. Unsolicited Volunteers

2. Daily inconsistency of volunteers (quantity, skill set, reliability)
3. Safety/Liability

III. Volunteers B. Response 1. Internal resources a) Volunteer office oversaw the screening process and had knowledge of changing volunteer needs. b) Staff volunteered their personal time. c) Attended to safety measures in all volunteer tasks.

III. Volunteers B. Response 1. External resources a) Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) b) Local media c) Contacted local legislative offices for potential volunteers d) Connected with other organizations that have volunteer departments

III. Volunteers C. Lessons Learned 1. Create a system of Volunteer Management in advance of a disaster 2. Pre-identify specific volunteer tasks to enable appropriate assignment of volunteers 3. Pre register volunteers prior to assignment

Intermediate Response Restoration Centers
• Temporary centers which housed various government agencies under one roof • CCBQ provided 43 case managers for 3 of 6 NYC Restoration Centers in Brooklyn and Queens

Long-Term Response: Disaster Case Management • 17 DCMs and 2 supervisors help those with unmet needs related to Sandy


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Culturally competent and multilingual (English, French, Spanish, Creole and Chinese).
Assigned to 10 strategic locations 700 Families served to date

Long-Term Response: Disaster Case Management • Project Hope – Provides mental health counseling to individuals and groups affected by the disaster • Super Storm Sandy Employment Program – funded by CCUSA • Long-Term Recovery Groups

CATHOLIC CHARITIES BROOKLYN AND QUEENS

Income Inequality in New York City
 Last year, the wealthiest 20 percent of NYC residents made $391,022 a year on average. The poorest 20 percent made $9,681.  Bill de Blasio recently called this “a tale of two cities”.  Gap is slightly smaller in Brooklyn and Queens, but the disparity is real and it greatly impacts the ability of different communities to recover from a disaster. • 43 percent of the 518,000 households in New York and New Jersey asking for federal aid after Super Storm Sandy reported annual incomes of less than $30,000.

CATHOLIC CHARITIES BROOKLYN AND QUEENS CCBQ focused its immediate response on the coastal neighborhoods of Red Hook, Coney Island and the Rockaway Peninsula . Each of these areas has a high concentration of poor residents.

CATHOLIC CHARITIES BROOKLYN AND QUEENS Why were these communities so severely impacted?

 They are by the coast
 They have high numbers of undocumented immigrants  They have high numbers of poorly-designed public housing units  Families had a high rate of debt prior to the storm  They are relatively isolated from resources that exist in other communities

CATHOLIC CHARITIES BROOKLYN AND QUEENS

Why is there a concentration of the poor by the coast?
 Robert Moses, head of the Mayor’s Committee on Slum Clearance, played a major role

 New York City started building housing projects on the waterfront in 1950
 Land was cheap, few people lived there, and eminent domain could be easily asserted

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NYC Public Housing • In coastal areas, the buildings are poorly designed • 178,889 apartments in 345 developments • Largest public housing authority in North America • Floodwaters from the storm damaged 402 public housing buildings with more than 35,000 units in New York City.

• Their isolation in Coney Island, Red Hook and the Rockaways meant that they had very few local resources.

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Immigrants and Sandy

• Many undocumented residents live in the 3 areas where CCBQ focused its response.
• A large number of those residents lived in illegal housing units • FEMA, bearing the DHS logo, was often not seen as a safe place to seek assistance.

• Partnering with parishes was key as the church is a trusted place.

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Other Challenges During Response

• Volunteers had a difficult time understanding the needs of these communities.
• “Zoo animals being watched” • Cultural barriers led to some communities having a difficult time accessing resources.

• Some white communities were resistant to having people of color come there to access resources

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Myth of Hurricane Sandy as the Great Equalizer Social Realities: • Pre-existing poverty and inequality in the social structure • Racism and classism that has existed in NYC for decades.

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What are the pre-existing conditions that make it harder for communities to recover? High unemployment rate Poor education Food insecurity Lack of documentation for immigrants High prevalence of illegal housing units Density of public housing Lack of quality health care Pre-existing debt Overall acceptance of the poverty in these communities

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CCBQ has a robust action network that is consistently working on issues of structural inequality Here are some things you can do too… • Action alerts, meetings, rallies, etc. - engage elected officials and other power brokers • Join coalitions to organize

• Use your agency’s influence to push for more equal opportunities and access for your clients.

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Overarching Lessons Learned • Disaster preparedness cannot focus solely on response and recovery. • Social inequality is changeable. • Catholic Charities USA’s Campaign to Reduce Poverty in America

• Our “New Normal”

CATHOLIC CHARITIES BROOKLYN CCUSA: A Vital Resource

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• Office of Disaster Operations - Emergency Kit - Connection to material resources - Connection to funding opportunities • Applied Institute for Disaster Excellence

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CATHOLIC CHARITIES BROOKLYN Group Work

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1. Which of your internal assets might be put to use in the event of an emergency/disaster?

2. What social justice issue will you address now in order to mitigate the effects of a disaster?
3. What one Action step can you take to improve your ability to respond to a disaster?

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