By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders
Three years ago this month in an historic deluge, New York City was inundated by Superstorm Sandy.
The hurricane force gusts and rainfall of epic proportions obliterated homes and businesses, and drowned swaths of our shoreline causing billions of dollars of damage
The Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper community was particularly hard hit due to our close proximity to the East River which spilled into our community in torrents swallowing up cars and flooding streets and basements. The rebuilding and recovery in our community alone took over a year.
Federal disaster relief funds was sought for our devastated areas, but shockingly opposed by a coalition of conservative and Tea Party members of Congress led by the delegation from South Carolina. In return for any federal aid they demanded equivalent cuts in urban social programs. Their rallying cry was that a disaster is a political opportunity not to be missed.
They bemoaned the imposition on the national treasury to help northern communities in the eye of Sandy and New York City in particular. So how ironic and hypocritical is it that those same Carolinians are now petitioning Congress for the very same federal aid that they sought to deny New York City from a storm that mirrored Sandy!
How fitting would it be if Senators Schumer, Gillibrand and Representatives Nadler and Maloney would stand on the floor of Congress to block these funds. Tit for tat.
But of course they won’t… nor should they. Federal disaster relief is too important to be controlled by petty regional grandstanding or small minded ideological differences. This proposition seems lost on some of our fellow Americans who loathe the politics of our region of the country.
But before the check is sent to South Carolina perhaps they should be reminded that this is “one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”
America is at its best when we help one and other through tough times regardless of region or politics. Such an understood compact used to be the case before the poisonous political rhetoric that we accept now as routine in our national discourse took root. Mutuality, respect and assistance is what the framers of the Constitution envisioned and expected. Sadly this has been lost in the discordant cacophony of political sound bites and fury appealing to narrow and fringe constituencies fueling resentment and hate, while driving wedges between Americans based on ideology, politics or region.
Perhaps the natural disaster that was visited upon South Carolina and the national response of cooperation can serve as an opportunity, and a reminder of what makes America great.