When Goldi Guerra set off on foot for City Hall from Staten Island Sunday morning, carrying his guitar and traveling by foot, it was just him, a couple of friends and, he estimates, about 20 cops.
But by the time he had finished making his way through Cedar Grove and Midland Beach to board the Staten Island ferry — and bid farewell to their police escort — the number of marchers had swelled to several dozen.
And as they marched, people told stories.
"The basic gist of every story I heard," Guerra said, "is 'We haven't gotten much help from the government, but we're still here."
On Sunday, Occupy Sandy volunteer Guerra and his small band of Staten Islanders were just one of many groups marking the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy with the March to Turn the Tide. The march, which saw groups walking, biking, and busing to City Hall from all five boroughs, was organized by a coalition of individuals and organizations and meant to serve as a reminder that rebuilding is far from over.
"We're here to mark the one-year anniversary and to call attention to the people who are still hurting, and to promote a just rebuilding," said Pat Almonrode, a member of climate change group 350.org, at the City Hall rally that followed the march.
Hundreds had gathered just across from the Brooklyn Bridge, waving signs emblazoned with the words "One year later: Broken promises" and "Sandy survivors deserve healthy homes."
Sheryl Braxton of Community Voices Heard spoke to the crowd about dangerous conditions in public housing that have persisted since the hurricane. City Council member Carlos Menchaca addressed the resulting mold crisis.
Grants for homeowners, the installation of generators at public housing complexes, fee waivers for small businesses and buyouts for homeowners in the most disaster-prone areas are some of the city's recovery initiatives to date. Just last week, the first buyout home was demolished in Staten Island's Oakwood Beach, the coastal neighborhood where Guerra's march began.
But city officials said last week that the first allotment in Sandy aid from the federal government, $1.8 billion, would not be enough to rebuild or acquire all the homes damaged by Sandy.
Albert Carcaterra, 18, of Rockaway Park, said the city needed to do more to support his battered community.
"We put in a lot of work helping people out, but things still aren't right," he said.