August 4, 2020, many US residents were dealing with the global pandemic, COVID19. However, residents on the east coast also had to deal with Tropical Storm Isaias. The City of Philadelphia as a whole was affected, as the Schuylkill river was at its highest water level in 150 years. Hundreds of thousands of residents lost power and utilities for days. Residents specifically in Eastwick and Manayunk were rescued from floods. Unfortunately, this is nothing new for Eastwick residents. They have dealt with flooding for decades. That is why Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson is proposing that 500 million dollars be allocated to Eastwick to implement flood mitigation and provide assistance to residents with home damage from the proposed $1 trillion bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Bill. Councilmember Johnson was joined on August 4th, 2021, at Saturn Place and 78th Street by Eastwick residents and State Representative Regina Young, a resident of Eastwick.
Eastwick is a middle class, predominantly African American community. In the 1930s, the community was made up of almost 20,000 residents; 80% Black, and 15% “Foreign Born”, with thriving businesses and factories that employed residents. However, almost half of the residents were displaced by the late 1950s. An Urban Renewal Plan displaced 8,636 residents. Since then, elected officials have failed the community time and time again. Carolyn Moseley, Eastwick Community Advocate, has worked tirelessly to ensure residents receive the funding they deserve. Since the flood in August 2020, Carolyn and her colleagues have met every Friday to find ways to help the community. She stated during the press conference “ Long term residents were forced out after the Urban Renewal Plan, 50 years later, we will not be drowned out of our community.” She also declared Councilmember Johnson as the only elected official that has put in the work to improve the neighborhood.
Community Leader and longtime resident Leo Brundage shared a few words with the crowd as well. His house has flooded over 10 times since living in Eastwick. He said residents of Eastwick have post traumatic stress syndrome whenever it rains. “We just want to live like normal people; I love when it rains and just want to look out the window.” He said during the press conference. Councilmember Johnson referred to Eastwick residents as “un-shy, and unapologetic”. He thanked them for holding him accountable and encouraged them to keep pushing until they receive the funding needed to improve the neighborhood. Other community leaders relayed the same message as Councilmember Johnson; “Residents do not sit on your hands and wait for things to come to you, you have to go and get it” said the Eastwick Friends and Neighbors Coalition Executive Director. Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon has supported Councilman Johnson through the process and will continue to advocate for any available federal funding for Eastwick. Eastwick has the qualities of both a city and the suburbs, which is why the residents love their community so much and want to save it.