Sandy Snapshots

Many memories fade over time but the herculean effort of the NY Sanitation Department will never be forgotten. Here are some other memories from Sandy and its aftermath:

Although many found Red Cross to be Missing In Action, Team Rubicon and members of the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) were of immense help to many. Madonna, Michael Stipe of R.E.M., Anthony Weiner, Justin Timberlake, Jessica Biel, Fall Out Boy and Chelsea Clinton were among those who came to help out.

The Graybeards, with a huge assist from Nicholas Compagnone and Matthew Petronis, raised hundreds of thousands of dollars which helped many victims of the storm. (100% of donations went to those in need). Some members of The Graybeards appeared on stage with Paul McCartney and Steve Buscemi at the Concert for Sandy Relief at Madison Square Garden.

Hipsters came through. It wasn’t unusual to see a group of 25 or 30 hipsters— skinny guys with beards and skinny girls who seem to like skinny guys with beards — on bikes on their way to volunteer. They didn’t come to pose — they worked hard, long hours and got dirty. They came as hipsters and left looking like chimney sweeps from Mary Poppins.

Mountains of garbage at Riis Park parking lot…the darkness….no lights on Shore Front Parkway…flat tires from all the nails and debris in the streets…just a week after Sandy a nor’easter hit New York dropping 4.7 inches of snow in Central Park, the earliest 4-inch snowstorm on record. Rockaway was mostly spared – though the storm caused delays in recovery efforts.

For months after Sandy, the common greeting among locals was, “How’d you make out?”  And the other question was, “You back?”  That was short for are you back in your house or still living miserably in Brooklyn or somewhere else.

In the spring of 2013, there was a huge Demand The Sand rally calling for jetties….Locals also rallied to call attention to proposed Flood Insurance premiums that would have been financially devastating…A Secret Santa, Sandy Claus, delivered gifts ….With the subway knocked out, The City started a ferry service from Rockaway in mid-November. After suspending the toll on the Marine Park Bridge after Sandy, Governor Cuomo reinstated the toll before the end of November, putting another burden on volunteers and residents going back and forth over the bridge for supplies or to temporary living quarters.

The boardwalk was pretty much totally gone, with some chunks of the old boards coming to rest in front of homes more than a block away. The NYC Parks Department created boardwalk “islands” for the 2013 summer season allowing concessions to operate.

They’re not talked about much these days but when the lifeguard/comfort stations were installed, there was much public derision. Looking like pencil sharpeners, the toilets in the sky, cost $4 million apiece and had few fans.

Dylan Smith, just 23, and Mike McDonnell used surf boards and extension cords to help rescue people in Belle Harbor as fire and flood ravaged Beach 130th Street. Both are now gone, Smith dying in a surfing accident in Puerto Rico two months after on December 23, and McDonnell succumbing to skin cancer, the same day, seven years later in 2019.

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