NEW YORK -- Thousands gathered Saturday in New York City to commemorate the fifth anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, which was blamed for at least 182 deaths and devastated communities in New York and New Jersey when it hit in October 2012.
Demonstrators started their rally at Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn, where speakers told stories of living through the storm.
Rachel Rivera, a member of New York Communities for Change, an organization that challenges economic and racial oppression, said she nearly lost her then 6-year-old daughter in the storm. Breaking into tears, she said her daughter is still traumatized and "she cries to me every time it rains hard saying, 'Mommy, is it going to happen again? Are we going to live or are we going to die?"
The group then marched to Manhattan, and, according to the organizers' estimate, had over 5,000 participants.
Nyeisha Mallett, a young member of UPROSE, which advocates for climate justice and community resiliency, was leading chants and energizing demonstrators throughout the march.
"Climate change is real," she said. "And it's going to affect young people of color, first and worst, because we're in the frontlines of the crisis."
Rally participants had a series of demands for New York's elected officials -- Mayor Bill De Blasio, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Sen. Chuck Schumer. Demonstrators called for improved recovery and preparedness efforts after Sandy, and want officials to push for renewable energy legislation.
"I think it's important that we stand together," said Brenda Dardar Robichaux, the former principal chief of the United Houma Nation, a state-recognized tribe in Louisiana. Having survived Hurricane Katrina and other storms, she was marching in solidarity with those affected by Superstorm Sandy. "Our future depends on it."