Report from New Haven on Hurricane Sandy

November 1, 2012 | Revolution Newspaper |


On Monday night as hurricane Sandy was developing up the east coast, Connecticut governor Malloy declared in a news press conference that this could be of “Katrina proportions.” This statement made me consider what was deeper in this and how to see what are really acts of nature, as opposed to acts of a system; a system that with the effects of Katrina left many left in desolation, disruption, and death. A system that showed its ugly reality on how it lacked concern for the people and how this system not only crushes and exploits the vast majority of people in this country but all around the world. But it is at these times that there is the potential for people to get a clear understanding of the workings of a capitalist-imperialist system—that no matter what is going on, it continues to hum in the background as it crushes spirits and destroys lives.

In New Haven and much of CT there is enormous damage to people’s lives as well as property and especially hard hit is the infrastructure of power lines and railroads. When I was at the bus stops at the New Haven Green which is the transfer point for the various areas of the city and suburbs I tried to engage people in looking at the distinction between acts of nature and acts of a system and I had newspapers with me. I talked to two middle-aged Black women who did not go to the shelter. When I asked about that they commented on hearing the governor remark on this storm being of “Katrina proportions” and remembered what happened to Black people at the time. One woman said she “had some damage to the outside of her house but nothing like the photos of houses completely demolished and filled with water and also many people without power and how long will that take to get back running, remember last year with that early storm where people had to go without electricity for weeks.” There was an anger that was put right out there and they did get the newspaper.

A guy, a Latino, in his 30s and was very agitated and when we talked he said that the trains are out now and he “needs to get to work, a place four stops on the train.” He just got this job being out of work after being laid off his last job months ago and said he needs to work “cause all his bills are due and things are coming down on his family, I’m the only one working right now.”

Many people heard the governor in his press conferences and some replied that they were safe and not affected. But one woman, a white woman in her forties from a white working class section of the city, said his statement brought back the memories of the photos from Katrina of people on the roofs and how they were abandoned and then she said “you know if that is what they are doing to Black folks they will do it to me also, just wait.” She did not stay to talk since she had to get the bus and I could not get a contact number.

When I went to the university in the city which is a prominent elite training ground there were three guys talking about the hurricane and I asked how they did through it and what they thought and did they put it in the context of acts of nature and acts of a system. One guy after saying nothing had happened to him, took the line that if people did not follow the directions and got injured it was their own fault. I tried to challenge him and he went into a rant about how he did not care for the “lower people” and he came here to get his degree and start his career. And the others did not response when I turned to them but as they left one of these guys turned to the one ranting and said loud enough for me to hear, “Man, you’re really an ass and not only that you’re wrong.”

These are some contacts made in the past two days. There are other areas of the city that I have not gotten to since power lines are down in many areas and difficult to get past. There is an indication that the effects in this area as well as entire area that was devastated by hurricane Sandy will linger within a system that does not have as its basis the concerns and desires of the people.

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