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New AARP Survey Reveals the Superstorm Sandy Struggles of New York's 50+

Assoc. Details Sandy's Toll, from Utility Issues to Gas Prices & What the State's 50+ Think Needs to Be Done Next 

NEW YORK, Jan. 4, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On the heels of Congress' approval of billions of dollars in relief for state's hit hardest by Superstorm Sandy, like New York, comes a new report from AARP New York taking a local look at the experiences of many of the state's 50+ in the fallout of the storm. From power outages and storm damage to how their utility companies and elected officials handled it all, the survey takes a deep dive into the lives of some of those most impacted by Sandy.

"New Yorkers were hit hard by Sandy, and we wanted to know what the experiences were of the 50+ to get a better idea of what issues, from housing to transportation, needed to be addressed in the state," said Beth Finkel, Sr. Manager for Community Outreach for AARP in New York.

According to the AARP survey of 50+ in New York City and Long Island areas, most New Yorkers gave high marks for storm responses to Governor Cuomo, with nearly 70% saying he did a good or excellent job and President Obama, 57.9%.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) didn't score so highly, with just 37.9% saying the agency did a good or excellent job, and 43% stating FEMA's response was poor to fair.

Purchasing gas proved to be a major problem for just over 60% of the 50+ in the areas impacted by the storm in New York, with 66% reporting inflated gas prices.

While 86.4% lost power, nearly three quarters (72.5%) reported being without power for 4 or more days – and their displeasure with the way electric utilities responded was apparent. 44% of New York's 50+ said their electric utility's response to Sandy was poor, with another 21% stating the response was fair. Electric utilities far outpaced all other utilities in the survey when it came to negative reviews: for internet, 10% said the response was poor; for telephone, 10.8%; and for gas, just 4%.

The survey found 28.7% of respondents saw their homes damaged due to Sandy; with over half (52.5%) saying the damage was moderate to severe. Even though the 50+ age group saw some tough times due to the storm, on a positive note, the majority of those surveyed, 56.3%, volunteered to help others. 

"New Yorkers are tough and always willing to step up to the plate to help those in need in the face of a disaster like Sandy," added Finkel. "AARP was glad to be able to join with that spirit and provide some financial assistance to organizations dedicated to aiding those affected by the storm."

The AARP Foundation donated over $350,000 in New York to organizations helping with storm relief, and over $1.4 million across the region.

With utility companies in New York now eyeing rate hikes in the wake of the storm, AARP also gauged the population in regards to utility prices in state finding:

  • Over one quarter reported difficulty paying their electric bill;
  • 69% said their elected officials weren't doing enough to protect people affected by rising energy costs;
  • 73.2% believed their interests aren't taken into consideration when rate increases for gas and electric are proposed; and
  • 76.7% said they thought New York needed to establish an independent consumer advocate office to represent them in rate cases before the Public Service Commission, with nearly 60% supporting Governor Cuomo including the issue in his upcoming budget address.

Establishing an independent consumer advocate office in New York will be a priority for AARP in the coming legislative session.

The full survey is available at: https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B3IY8WmqQATeYW9WR1FjUVBmaXM

Follow us on Twitter:  @AARPNY and Facebook: AARP New York

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole.  AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates.  We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with over 35.1 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's millions of members and Americans 50+; AARP VIVA, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our website, AARP.org.  AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors.  We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.


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