The wealth divide has always existed in New York City, but disasters can amplify the distance between classes. The Big Apple's wealth gap is wider than it has ever been, with disparities rivaling those of sub-Saharan Africa, The New York Times reported. Last year, the wealthiest 20 percent of Manhattan made nearly $400,000 on average, according to census data, while the poorest 20 percent made less than $10,000.
Poorer people are often the most vulnerable during extreme weather conditions, because they have fewer resources to evacuate, less access to storm-resistant shelter and less money to recuperate from the effects of the storm, according to a team of University of California professors who studied the topic in the wake of Katrina. They also found that black, Hispanic, Asian and immigrant communities were hit the hardest. And the most "socially vulnerable" county in the nation to "environmental hazards," in light of these factors? Manhattan, the researchers concluded.
For people like Nana Abukudom, the economic consequences of the storm are sharp, and unforgiving.
"Back home in Ghana, there were no jobs and no work. That's why I'm here," Abukudom said, holding a "BIKE RENTAL" sign. "Now it's very hard here too."