Four Months After Sandy, The Rockaways Still Look Awful [PHOTOS]

rockaways march 2013

When Hurricane Sandy struck no one was prepared, least of all the communities in the Far Rockaways and Staten Island that were hardest hit. More than four months later, these communities are still reeling. 

In November, the damage was so bad that Mayor Bloomberg made it clear there would never be a new wooden boardwalk. When we went out there residents spoke of the difficulty and delays in getting emergency aid.

By December business and individuals were getting back on their feet, but power and telephone service had only just resumed for many residents. In January as Congress fought over the specifics of an aid deal, people in the Rockaways were busy trying to save their homes.

In early February, early plans for how to use the first $1.77 billion for New York City from the $51 billion in federal aid for Hurricane Sandy relief, were released, but city officials warned it could take months for the money to be distributed.

But residents have persevered on their own. With local businesses like Suncycle Studios reopening already. And the YANA (You Are Never Alone) centre, another important aid centre during the initial weeks after the storm, is close to reopening with the help of Occupy Sandy and other volunteer organisations.

Just last week, plans for aid were finalised, and in the Rockaways people say it is desperately needed. They’re close to giving up hope.


As you drive into the Rockaways, a blue sky filled with puffy white clouds can give the impression everything is back to normal.

But there are many reminders of work to be done.

In February, Mayor Bloomberg presented New York City's initial plan for its first $1.77 billion instalment from the $51 billion relief funds set aside by Congress.

Under the mayor's plan, $350 million is set aside for grants to single-family homes from low-middle- income owners.

Last week, the Mayor finalised its plans for the first $1.77 billion. Including a buyout program similar to Governor Cuomo's but one that allows for redevelopment.

Because redevelopment is allowed, the city will have to offer post-Sandy values for the property and not pre-Sandy values under Governor Cuomo's plan.

Meanwhile, as the cleanup continues homes and businesses are going from unsafe to safe.

And B 116 St in Belle Harbor is looking more lively as people begin to return to the area.

Paul Mastros, owner of Suncyle Studios, is closing up the shop after a day of training classes. The studio had been a base for volunteers and donation distribution in the weeks after the storm. In January, when it re-opened it they offered free classes to local residents for the month. However, he said, only one local resident he knows of has received loans or aid money, and he himself has had a tough time securing insurance or loans for the damage to his shop.

The bank has finally re-opened easing the burdens on local business owners like Mastros, who said he had to travel to banks in the city.

Genie Murphy is from Breezy Point and lost her home during the storm. She is staying with family and came out here to get a haircut at her hair saloon. She was pleasantly surprised that it had reopened. Like many we spoke to she said securing insurance money or aid loans has been a huge challenge.

But at least it isn't as hard to get a haircut anymore.

Buses are running, but the subways might not be back for up to a year.

Normalcy is slowly resuming, but reconstruction is far from done.

Rebuilding on the boardwalk is beginning, but it won't be a wooden boardwalk but rather a concrete one, and may not be finished until next summer.

During the storm the wooden boardwalk was ripped off it pilings, ending up in streets and homes in the surrounding areas.

This is from December, gutted buildings still stood months after the storm.

Now the stores have been taken done.

With piles of rubble serving as a stark reminder of the what once stood there.

Other areas have been totally cleared.

At YANA (You Are Never Alone), a local store and community centre, volunteers are helping with the repairs.

YANA served as a base of operations for Occupy Sandy and other volunteers in the aftermath of the storm, but now it is getting ready to resume normal operation.

mould has been a major problem, causing health issues for many residents, and at YANA they are taking this into account as they rebuild.

Houses stand, but many still remain empty.

The boardwalk has been boarded up for construction.

The Park Inn is boarded up and repairs are underway.

And Sand Bar is also fenced off.

As are much of the old boardwalk entry points.

However, new tracks now line the beaches where a couple months ago there were only tractor marks.

But rubble remains everywhere.

As does some patriotism.

This area looks exactly as it did in January.

Sand still goes up to the parking lot entrance,

In January, this statue was on the ground.

But now it stands tall and the boys head has been replaced.

Many pray for the areas speedy recovery.

But in the meantime people and families are still finding ways to enjoy the beach.

Dogs still need to be walked.

And couples still need places to spend a quiet moment together.

The main drag still has old relics from before the storm.

But because of delays in aid disbursement the community's trust in government aid is low.

And while the scene looks nice there are still many signs of the trouble the area has seen.

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