The Scene At The Rockaways Is Still Surreal, Weeks After Being Devastated By Sandy

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Photo: Daniel Goodman / Business Insider

Last Saturday, we went out to the Rockaways in Queens, NY to see how they are faring in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The area was one of the hardest in the storm and the situation remains bleak. Residents we spoke to said power, gas, and heat remained out for many. Though LIPA estimates it may return power to the remaining 80,000 residents without power on Tuesday.

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Nights are cold and dangerous. One man, a veteran who was formerly homeless, told us that some people in his apartment complex were setting off fire alarms to get residents to allow them inside so they could rob them. 

While FEMA and Red Cross as well as a handful of corporations including, LIPA, Chase, and Allstate Insurance are on hand, Occupy Wall Street has also set up a strong operation under the guise Occupy Sandy.

As we followed one person through the day, they sought out the essentials. Basic food items for the next meal, water, a mask to help avoid breathing in the noxious air in many areas, and medicine he needed. 

We stopped at a FEMA centre and went past the devastated boardwalk and a ruined main street. 

Buildings have been totally destroyed. One drug rehabilitation home had to be evacuated to a nearby area after the first two floors were flooded during the storm. 

Wreckage blocks many roads and construction workers are still having a difficult time getting around. Streets are still being cleared of sand and rubble.

Many community members have come together to provide food. Kenny Peña, the owner of Suncycle Studios was cooking hot dogs. He turned his store into a donation centre. After draining the water and sand.

Some business owners we spoke with said they wouldn’t be reopening, the damage was too severe.

Residents were also mixed about whether they would stay. 

And everyone told us we better leave before it got dark.

The situation is grim and until basic necessities like power and gas are restored it is looking to get worse.

If you live or own a business in any affected area in New York or New Jersey and would like to share your story about the storm, relief, and the recovery process including the insurance and aid process please contact the reporter at: [email protected]

Traffic getting into the area is intense. The road is filled with volunteers and large trucks. Many from out of state, we saw Alabama, Louisiana, North Carolina, Massachusetts, and Virginia plates among others.

Rockaway Beach and B 114th St. has been completely decimated.

Whole buildings have been destroyed.

Workers survey the damage.

Cell phone service is spotty in the area and it can be hard to make calls or send text messages.

There are many different kinds of vehicles on the roads and it can be hard to get around.

A reminder of the recent elections.

In many areas the wreckage is complete.

Including the beach.

And the boardwalk.

It has been torn asunder in areas.

Debris litters the remains of the beach side walk way.

A dog, gone missing in the aftermath.

But life is beginning to resume.

Though nothing is back to normal.

Once true words.

But the pieces are slowly being picked up.

Sanitation is crucial in the areas current state.

As families try to clear the dirt and sand from their homes.

Many survey the damage.

But it is a frustrating process.

For all ages.

The work continues.

And small slices of normalcy return.

Some restaurants have been able to reopen.

Nearby is the FEMA centre. It had long lines and a number of people we spoke to had been waiting for up to two hours.

Allstate had set up a remote station to take claims.

LIPA was also there.

There is a food distribution centre with snacks.

And sandwich packets that include macaroni and potato salads.

Punch is also available.

After the waits you begin the process of speaking to FEMA officials. Some from the AmeriCorps.

There are many on hand.

Gas is almost none existent in these worst affected areas.

The subways are not running either.

But people are pulling together.

And others have come in to help.

There are long lines of volunteers.

Many being organised through Occupy Sandy.

Energy workers are clearing debris and mud from a pipe.

Meanwhile solar power is proving more reliable.

The wreckage is everywhere.

For many it feels like a dead end.

A volunteer announces hot food nearby.

The meals can be good and filling.

Many volunteers have come with donations for affected families.

A haunting warning.

Children and parents watch the passerby-ers.

This home for recent parolees was flooded and many have left. Some remain but said they are not sure what is going to happen to the home.

Many places will get signs like this.

A bicycle can be one of the better ways to get around.

On Beach St. Kenny Peña, the owner of Suncycle Studios, cooks hot dogs and hamburgers for neighbours.

He has turned the studio into a donation centre.

Volunteers are helping distribute the goods. Cleaning supplies are particularly important.

They have received a lot of donations.

But many businesses are unsure if they will ever really recover.

And some residents feel the same way.

Some pieces of lawn decorations remain standing.

And people continue to hope for the future.

New Jersey was also hit hard by Sandy.

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