By Katie McFadden
Businesses and homes have been rebuilt, and even the boardwalk. But there are some things that Rockaway can never get back that were taken because of Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2012—neighbors. On this 11th anniversary, we must not forget those who lost their lives due to the storm. Hurricane Sandy was directly responsible for the deaths of at least 147 people from the Caribbean to the United States and Canada. Of those, according to NYC.gov, 44 were in New York. News archives from the New York Times and QNS.com document 10 Rockaway residents who died because of Hurricane Sandy.
Richard Gold, 67
Gold was an Army veteran and beloved mailman. According to the NY times, “Mr. Gold was found dead Oct. 30 in the basement of his home on Beach 133rd Street in Rockaway Park by a neighbor. The police said the cause was drowning.”
David Gotthelf, 72
Gotthelf was a resident of Beach 115th Street who lived with cerebral palsy. “Mr. Gotthelf was found dead in his home in Rockaway Park by a friend on Oct. 30. The police said the cause of death apparently was drowning,” according to the NY times.
Keith Lancaster, 62
The body of Mr. Lancaster wasn’t discovered until April 2013 in his Beach 40th trailer. His home showed signs of a five-foot watermark. In June 2013, New York City’s medical examiner identified the body and announced that Lancaster had likely drowned in the flood during Sandy, according to QNS.com
William McKeon, 78
“Mr. McKeon died on the night of Nov. 6 at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center as a result of injuries sustained during the storm. On October 30, Mr. McKeon had been found bleeding from the head at the bottom of a dark stairwell that was still wet and covered with sand in a building on Shore Front Parkway in Rockaway Park,” according to the NY Times.
Albert McSwain, 77
“Mr. McSwain died Nov. 10 at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center after sustaining storm-related trauma to his head and body. He was found by family members on Oct. 31 at the bottom of the steps of his Hammels apartment building on Rockaway Beach Boulevard. Power had gone out in the building.”
Santina Reilly, 84
Reilly was described by a neighbor as “the cat lady of Beach 87th Street.” She lived alone in the two-story Rockaway home but slept on the ground floor because she had difficulty walking. Officers responded to her home at about 2:30 p.m. the day after the storm and found Reilly unconscious and unresponsive, according to QNS.com
Nancy Sorenson, 50
Sorenson was a wife, a mother and a beloved teacher at Our Lady of Grace. According to the NY Times, “Ms. Sorenson died Oct. 30 from an injury she received while shutting off the gas to her house on Beach 124th Street in Rockaway Park. Ms. Sorenson cut her arm and bled to death.”
George Stathis, 90
Stathis was singer Cindy Lauper’s uncle. “Mr. Stathis was found dead Nov. 3 in his basement at Beach 121st Street in Rockaway Park. He had drowned,” the NY Times said.
Henry Sullivan, 57
Sullivan was a science teacher at Abraham Lincoln High School in Coney Island. “Mr. Sullivan was found dead Oct. 30 in his basement on Beach 136th Street in Rockaway Park. His wife, Brenda Sullivan, said he had gone there to turn off the gas. The police said the cause of death was probably drowning,” the NY Times said.
Eden Toussaint, 58
Toussaint was a Grenadian American military veteran in the U.S. Army. According to the NY Times, “Mr. Toussaint was found dead by his landlord on Oct. 31 in a basement apartment on Beach 69th Street in Rockaway Park. The police said he had drowned.”
We acknowledge that these deaths were not the only ones that some attribute to Hurricane Sandy. Let us also remember those who may have died in the weeks and months following the storm due to storm-related accidents and dealing with the stress and hardship of the recovery process. They are not forgotten.