11/26/2012 10:24 am ET Updated Jan 26, 2013

Trouble on the Horizon

Just a few weeks after Hurricane Sandy and the Nor'easter devastated New York, a new storm is on the horizon. But this one is entirely avoidable.

Republicans in Washington seem determined to fight Governor Cuomo's plea for the Federal government to step up and help New York rebuild. GOP congress members are citing the looming "fiscal cliff" in Washington and saying they just might not be able to find the money to help New York rebuild its infrastructure.

At the same time, they're trying to protect the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. How can our Republican representatives like Mike Grimm and Peter King let these tax cuts go through while there is so much rebuilding to do?

Repairing New York and getting people back into homes with power, heat and hot water is a definitely at the forefront of all of our minds. But we cannot allow other vital services like Medicare and Medicaid, unemployment benefits and education be cut, simply because some of the politicians who were elected to represent us want to make things easier for the wealthiest Americans.

Now, as the city gets repaired, a new problem is showing up -- people who are newly unemployed because of the storm. To me it seems pretty simple: we need to connect New York's unemployed residents with the work that needs doing.

Let's face it: we cannot count on the one percent to create good jobs for our unemployed. We need to work together as a city to find ways rebuild our neighborhoods and communities. The key to this idea, however, is ensuring that we have the resources in place to support this effort.

Let's be honest, we did not expect Hurricane Sandy to cause the damage and devastation that occurred. My family and I did our grocery shopping and made sure we had enough batteries and candles to make sure we could function if we lost power. Just as we prepared, families around the city took the same kind of precautions.

While the Bronx was mostly spared (thankfully and unusually), much of the city wasn't so lucky. Friends and family died, power was out in some places for weeks and many New Yorkers still lack necessities. Sandy was our Hurricane Katrina. Though her destruction and devastation ignored class and economic standing, taking down whatever was in her path, traditionally it has been communities of color that have had the hardest time rebuilding. While for the most part power has been restored, areas in the Rockaways, Coney Island and Red Hook are still disaster zones. Now it is up to our government and our elected officials to take a stand for rebuilding our city.

Understanding that significant tax funding is necessary to help rebuild the hardest hit areas in our region, the idea that our Representatives in Congress would decide to extend a tax break for the wealthiest two percent of the country is shameful.

Our elected officials must make it their top priority to get New York and its residents back on track. That's why they were elected, and they need to get this done if they expect to remain in office.