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Testimonial / 09/20/2023

United We Stand: Remembering Hurricane Ida and Advocating for a Safer Tomorrow

Dear Chhaya Friends and Community, 


As the Executive Director of Chhaya CDC and a resident of the Jackson Heights community, I write this letter in honor of the lives lost during Hurricane Ida and the community that was destroyed by unprecedented inland flooding. 


Two years ago, Hurricane Ida landed in the tri-state area and hit Queens particularly hard. Twelve lives were lost, eleven of those lived in subterranean apartments, ten victims were of Asian descent. It also flooded and damaged countless homes in neighborhoods across the city that are inland and not located in flood zones. The storm taxed our infrastructure and demonstrated exactly how vulnerable New York is to climate disaster. 


As an organization dedicated to supporting the working class South Asian and Indo-Caribbean communities, it was devastating to witness what these families went through. The suffering from loss of lives, the anxiety from navigating bureaucratic systems for relief and the stress of rebuilding with what little one has was overwhelming. Chhaya CDC did its best to support families during this time with financial assistance and counseling to help alleviate the stress. Also, while we had been working on the BASE (Basement Apartments Safe for Everyone) campaign for over twelve years at this point, the devastation of Hurricane Ida reignited our passion for ensuring that no more lives will be lost during the next storm. 


Two years later, we are frustrated and saddened that the legislature still needs to act in order to create a pathway for homeowners to make basements safe. I use this opportunity to call on the legislature to pass the BASE bill and ensure that the lives lost were not in vain. I also want to use this opportunity to celebrate the resiliency of our community and remember how strong we are when we stand together and support each other. 


In solidarity, 


Annetta Seecharran

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