As we pray for those who lost their lives to Hurricane Sandy and for the loved ones they left behind, it is heartening to see so many Americans reach out to help those still struggling to return to their homes or facing a shortage of food, gas, or clean water. The efforts of those helping, from first responders to those working with organizations on the ground, are heroic and inspiring. Yet, recovery is just beginning. The storm's damage is expected to be in the billions, and stands to be the most expensive natural disaster since Hurricane Katrina. It will take months -- and based on our experience in helping lead the green rebuilding of New Orleans since Katrina -- even years.
I will be in NYC this week visiting some of the devastated areas as Global Green USA explores how we can best help with rebuilding efforts, to rebuild more resilient, greener communities.
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina just seven years ago, we quickly responded with a vision and commitment to help New Orleans rebuild the city green. At the very least, Global Green USA will share our real-time experiences -- along with fact sheets, and case studies as relevant -- from working on the front lines to help rebuild homes to be more energy-efficient, schools to be healthier learning environments, and adopting a neighborhood in the Lower 9th Ward.
We need to help New York, New Jersey, and other devastated areas rebuild following Sandy with a focus first on helping those in greatest need and at risk. We must also address the urgent need to fight climate change and better protect coastal cities at risk from sea level rise, which worsens storm surge in severe weather events.
Why? 150 million Americans live in or near coastal cities. A little over a year ago, I stood at the end of Manhattan in Battery Park to launch Global Green's I AM campaign. We held signs reading "I AM NEW YORK" to send a signal that we are all connected, and need to all be concerned with what happens to communities thanks to sea level rise and climate change. Our PSA was launched to help people realize we need to stand in solidarity to push for action on climate change.
At that same spot we stood a year ago, 12 to 14 foot storm surge inundated Lower Manhattan.
The message of our campaign is more poignant and important than ever. With extreme weather becoming the new norm and the impact of climate change on storms like Sandy finally being covered in the news, we can refocus on the urgent need to protect coastal cities from the threat of storm surge as a result of global warming.
Sea level rise is no joke and it must be taken seriously. We can -- and must -- prepare for the future.
Soon, Global Green USA will announce our next Citizen Entrepreneur contest, and how we can all help the green rebuilding of the region.
For now, however, let's all stand in solidarity with New York and New Jersey. Join me in posting on Global Green’s Facebook page a photo of yourself holding a sign saying "I AM New York" or "I AM New Jersey," tweet the photo along with the hashtag #IAMNY or #IAMNJ, or upload it at globalgreen.org/IAM.
And you can make a donation to Global Green USA, helping us continue our work to protect coastal cities, and find ways to rebuild after Sandy. Let's look ahead and work together to guarantee a more sustainable and secure future.
We can do this together.