Quote of the Day – October 31, 2012
There are thousands of homeless people in New York City. On a given night, 51,000 sleep in city and private shelters, according to the Coalition for the Homeless. Thousands more sleep outside. So what happens to them during a storm, one that the National Weather Service has described as “life-threatening?”
While telling his life story, [Eduardo] Acevedo reached into his shirt and retrieved his dog tag, a flat piece of metal interlaced with an ivory skull charm and a silvery Star of David. He said he served as a first sergeant with the U.S. Marines during the Vietnam War. Though he could go to a shelter, he chooses not to. “I wouldn’t stay in a shelter,” he said. “There, you go to sleep and you wake up without your shoes.”
The Coalition for the Homeless, an advocacy group, lauds the city’s efforts. The city has created extra storm shelters, and as the coalition recommended, used shelters waiting lists to anticipate the capacity. “We don’t know how it’s going to play out, but so far, so good,” said Patrick Markee, the organization’s senior policy analyst. “The city has extra outreach teams going out. During situations like this in extreme weather, they can use extraordinary measures to remove people who have serious mental illness from the streets, who may not recognize they’re in a life-threatening situation.”
At least a few people, like Acevedo, have slipped through the cracks.[...]-Excerpted from “Homeless Endure Hurricane Sandy In New York City: ‘I Can Survive Just Like This’“, an article by Joy Resmovits and Joe Van Brussel, originally published in the Huffington Post.
During disasters and storms such as Hurricane Sandy, the idea of being “vulnerable” takes on an even more critical meaning. People without homes- and what possessions they may have- are even more dangerously vulnerable to the wind, rain and elements during disasters. It is difficult to keep track of large and transient homeless populations under ideal circumstances, and more so under disaster conditions. It may be impossible to pinpoint the death toll and damages to this most vulnerable of populations.
Social geographer Neil Smith, provides an interesting perspective on the differential impact storms and other disasters have for various demographic groups in his article, “There’s No Such Thing as a Natural Disaster.” Smith examines the specifics of another storm, Hurricane Katrina, but his argument is relevant today.