Public Health

After Sandy, NYC Health Priorities May See Waves of Change

NYC Mayor's Office

NYC Mayor’s Office

New York City healthy policy has witnessed countless changes over the recent decade. The Department of Health has produced sweeping efforts to help with healthy food access and awareness, promoting food security, and improving food system sustainability. Mayor Bloomberg incorporated some of these food policy initiatives in his latest PlaNYC 2030, which sets goals for city improvement by the year 2030.

But with Hurricane Sandy’s $60 billion East Coast price tag, does this mean delaying some of those ambitious health goals? Or will the recent re-focus on climate change help jump-start some of PlaNYC’s initiatives for a greener, greater (and healthierNew York?

Mayor Bloomberg took the podium again on Wednesday afternoon to give New Yorkers an update on some of the work being done across in response to Hurricane Sandy. The city took a big step back from answering questions on the Soda Ban and other dated topics to prioritize things such as safety, sanitation, and financial assistance. Some of the main points included:

  • Small and mid-sized business relief packages
  • Homeless shelters, senior centers, and temporary office spaces
  • Rebuilding of public transportation
  • Park and beach temporary closings and rehabilitation
  • Electricity, traffic safety, sanitation, and school closings
  • NYPD and public safety

New York City has moved from converting brownfields into public parks to digging through public parks turned into brownfields; from food safety to general public safety; from SNAP benefits to emergency food for evacuees; from restaurant grading to rebuilding them all together; from increased screen time to no electricity and internet.

New York City has always been the little-city-that-could; policies refused at the federal and state level were commonly re-ignited at the municipal level. But with the city designated as a disaster zone, the municipal government may have their hands full for quite some time, and we just might miss the Mayor’s “nannying” that’s left us so spoiled. The federal and state government is more responsible than ever in leading the future of food and health policy, and New Yorkers should keep this in mind at the polls this coming Tuesday. “What we have to do is learn from this… There is always more to do; for the public sector and the private sector,” the mayor stated.

Below: Witness Hurricane Sandy’s after-math in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY. October 30, 2012. 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM.

Sheepshead Bay Road in pitch darkness.

Trash cans along Sheepshead Bay Road overflowing with tree branches and debris.

NYPD lights cast a red glare onto broken windows of destroyed Deli on Emmons Ave.

Cherry Hill Gourmet’s red and white awning tied and torn apart like a pirate sail.

Dooley Street remains to be one of  the few streets in Sheepshead Bay still fully flooded.

Sheepshead Foot Bridge pretzled and closed off from residents.

Boats left misplaced in the Bay.

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