New York Magazine’s view of Lower Manhattan blacked out by Hurricane Sandy is a symbol of the deep division in American society. The blacked-out neighborhoods don’t correspond with income levels, but the darkness juxtaposed to the light is a visual representation of the unprecedented income inequality that insulates the wealthy from the hardships that afflict New Yorkers of middle and lower income.
Twenty-one percent of New York residents live below the poverty line. In Manhattan last year the wealthiest 20 percent made more than 40 times as much as the lowest 20 percent. Compared to last year, the rich got richer and the poor got poorer.
Sections of the city were submerged in the dark and wet and cold for six days and still counting before power was restored. New Yorkers — an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 people— are relying on FEMA and the generosity of strangers for food, shelter, diapers, formula, meds— all that Sandy washed away. Finding housing for so many people, most of whom live in public housing, is a massive job. “I don’t know that anybody has ever taken this number of people and found housing for them overnight,” said Mayor Bloomberg.
If you’d like to help Sandy’s victims by volunteering and/or donating, here’s a place to start.