Five years before COVID-19 hit, the New Jersey Resource Project was formed to respond to what had been New Jersey’s biggest disaster – Superstorm Sandy. We learned a tremendous amount about the lasting impact of disaster on our physical, mental, and economic well being and what can be done to mitigate those impacts. In early March, when Governor Murphy declared a state of emergency to respond to the pandemic, we knew we needed to take action.
Our communities’ existing priorities had not changed, so we were facing ‘a disaster on top of a disaster.’ And that meant access to information and resources would be critical in the coming months. Based on our research for “The Long Road Home,” on the impacts of Sandy, we knew economic pressure and mental health challenges would emerge quickly as defining struggles.
We knew this would be a critical time to educate and train community leaders. We’ve been grateful to collaborate with many other organizations in New Jersey to both share information about the work we’re doing, and work to protect the homes of New Jerseyans hit by COVID economic impacts.
And, we have developed a Community Captain program that is focused on breaking through the isolation we are experiencing & listening to our communities’ needs and visions for a post-COVID future, sharing resources and information, and training community leaders.
Meet the NJRP Community Captains:
Carlos, from Ventnor: “I was in seventh grade when Hurricane Sandy hit. When Atlantic City reopened its doors for entry back in 2012 I was only twelve years old when I came home to all of my family’s belongings thrown out onto the street ready for trash day. Nothing was recoverable and we became displaced from our home in Ventnor for an entire year while we lived in and out of seven different hotels. Experiences such as these could become traumatizing for the youth, I hope that no child would have to experience what I’ve been through. As this storm season starts again I hope for the best – that we don’t have any type of disasters that could cause people to evacuate to a shelter. People must continue to be safe within their homes keeping distance from others.
As this storm season starts again I hope for the best – that we don’t have any type of disasters that could cause people to evacuate to a shelter. People must continue to be safe within their homes keeping distance from others. I didn’t even know about all the offshore wind jobs coming to South Jersey until I learned it as part of the Captains program. I’m excited about the offshore wind jobs coming – I’d love to see these new jobs created for people in need of one! I love offshore wind because of how good it is for the environment so seeing this expansion will be awesome!”
Zane, from Brick: “The overdose crisis is having a terrible impact on our families and community which is why I’ve been canvassing to help end it. Overdose is completely preventable, and we deserve solutions that work. I have Medicaid and live my life with diabetes. At points in the past, I have had to get prior authorization every month before being allowed to refill my insulin prescription. I shouldn’t have to get prior authorization on medication that if I were to go without, it would be life-threatening. Often drugs require prior authorization from insurance companies because of their high cost, that’s the main reason why my insulin requires prior authorization. It’s important that we rein in drug corporations’ monopoly control to price gouge patients and hold them accountable for practices that directly and indirectly keep prices unjustifiably high. That’s why I’m a Captain, so I can get my insulin, we can make life saving drugs like Narcan more affordable, and that all of us can have access to COVID treatments and vaccines as they are developed.”
Ken, from Little Egg Harbor: “Over the course of the last two years I’ve knocked on hundreds of doors with NJRP by foot, skateboard and car to have dozens of conversations with strangers to bring attention to issues that have devastated our communities in New Jersey. Climate change and flooding is a crisis that has already started to show here more than many other places in the U.S. After Superstorm Sandy many of us realized preparing our communities for future storms and rising sea levels is a must. Achieving these goals through offshore wind energy is possible and by being part of the planning we can guarantee jobs and opportunity for our community while we do it. Gov. Phil Murphy’s approval for an offshore wind project is a step in the right direction. Starting a green energy industry that we can benefit from by creating jobs and training for New Jersey residents comes at a trying time for NJ families considering troubles from the COVID-19 pandemic including the unemployment rate we are seeing now. We want to see a positive impact on our communities.”