The following remarks were delivered on October 28 by Food & Water Watch intern Annie Willis at the beginning of the #Sandy5 march in New York City, commemorating the five-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy.
Hello everyone, my name is Annie Willis. I am an intern at Food & Water Watch, and I’m also a climate activist.
Food & Water Watch works to create a healthy and safe environment, and a sustainable future for our families.
I was born and raised in Far Rockaway. I lived in a one family house with my mother, brother and my dog—whose name is Sandy, ironically. As a child, I remember going to the beach with my family and friends, and always having a good time.
On October 29, 2012, my life changed. I remember the news telling us to evacuate, but we decided to stay because we weren’t impacted by Hurricane Irene. That night I witnessed the pitch-black water surge above cars, and come to my doorstep. I witnessed the broken window sound, and the gushing of water in my basement. At 15, I felt hopeless. And that night, I knew that our lives would never be the same.
After Sandy, we stayed in a cramped hotel room in Queens. I spent most of my high school years in a hotel room. After Sandy, I also witnessed that after two weeks we had no hot water, no electricity or heat.
I think the hardest challenge after Sandy was getting back my mental health back. I battled through depression, and all of my family members went through mental battles of their own.
Climate change disproportionately impacts children, low income people, and minorities. This is why I am asking the city to get survivors back in their homes, and also to create homes that are as resilient as New Yorkers, and that will weather the storms.
Today, we are experiencing extreme weather related events like hurricanes, droughts, fires, and mudslides. We must work to combat climate change and protect the future generation.
We have to show our collective power, and demand Mayor Bill de Blasio, Governor Andrew Cuomo, and Senator Chuck Schumer be champions of bold climate action, and to commit New York City—and the rest of the nation—to 100% renewable energy.
We remember! We remember the lives lost to Sandy. We remember the hospitals shutting down. We remember not having light, heat or electricity. We remember.
We resist! We resist the notion that storms like Sandy are normal. We resist the climate deniers in the White House.
We rise! We rise against injustice. We rise against racism. We rise by holding our elected officials accountable. We rise by making sure that those elected officials support getting off fossil fuels and going green: 100 percent renewable energy. We rise by going out to vote—November 7, y’all.
We organize, we speak out, and we march. We remember, we resist, and we rise. Thank you.