hurricane sandy

New York City Doesn’t Care About Disabled People During Disasters

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 31: Damage is viewed in the Rockaway neighborhood where the historic boardwalk was washed away during Hurricane Sandy on October 31, 2012 in the Queens borough of New York City. With the death toll currently at 55 and millions of homes and businesses without power, the US east coast is attempting to recover from the affects of floods, fires and power outages brought on by Hurricane Sandy. JFK airport in New York and Newark airport in New Jersey expect to resume flights on Wednesday morning and the New York Stock Exchange commenced trading after being closed for two days. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A federal judge ruled yesterday that the city practiced “benign neglect” during Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, leaving nearly a million disabled New Yorkers to fend for themselves in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act. The class-action lawsuit representing the city’s 900,000 residents with disabilities was brought by two nonprofit groups after Irene, but its case was strengthened after Sandy, when thousands in housing projects across the city were stranded without water or electricity.

While Judge Jesse Furman ruled that “in many — perhaps most — respects, the city has done an outstanding job” responding to the disasters, assisting those in need was not among its achievements. “Hurricane Sandy dramatically demonstrated the consequences of this failure,” Furman wrote in the ruling. “Plaintiffs provided substantial evidence that people with disabilities, unable to leave their buildings unassisted or to locate accessible transportation, remained trapped in high-rise buildings for days after the storm.” Solutions, the court said, should be in the hands of city experts “given the complexity and potential expense involved.”

But the advocacy groups involved had a special jab for the current leadership. “I have to say that the Bloomberg administration was unfortunately resistant to working cooperatively on the issue, and we look forward with the new administration to doing something constructive because that’s what’s necessary for this very vulnerable population,” said Sid Wolinsky of Disability Rights Advocates.

NYC Discriminated Against Disabled During Storms