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Ten years ago, Superstorm Sandy forever changed New York. The storm ravaged our city, killing 43 New Yorkers, destroying thousands of homes, and leaving hundreds of thousands without power, with damages estimated at $19 billion in the five boroughs alone. We experienced pain and devastation, but not equally: 55% of storm surge victims were low-income renters, and Black and Brown working-class communities along the coastlines bore the brunt of the hurricane’s most severe damage. Sandy was a major wake-up call: The climate crisis was at our doorstep.

The road to recovery hasn’t been easy, and some communities are still rebuilding. In 2013, the city mounted Build it Back to help Sandy-affected families return to their homes and rebuild what was lost. ALIGN and the Alliance for a Just Rebuilding coalition ensured that this was done equitably, with jobs created by the city’s recovery efforts benefitting low-income and Sandy-affected New Yorkers and becoming career union jobs. When new Mayor Bill de Blasio took over the effort in 2014, he restructured the program to do just that, committing to recruit and train 100 city residents into union pre-apprenticeships. We exceeded that goal, placing 108 workers into career-track jobs while another 997 were hired for recovery efforts, with 221 from Sandy-impacted communities.

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