Hurricane Sandy (7), going into the 'war zone' of Far Rockaway

Far Rockaway - Queens - New York City - NY Travel Blog

 › entry 887 of 1090 › view all entries
A car smashed onto a railing

In the past days I have shown some pictures and images and shared some impressions of hurricane Sandy and of its effects. Today I have witnessed the real power of Sandy. Impressions which I will never forget.

As stated in a previous blog some colleagues of mine were hit by Sandy. One of them had indicated he could use some help. And today I, as well as five colleagues, headed into one of the parts of New York City where Sandy had hit hardest: Far Rockaway. Rockaway is a tiny island at the coast of Long Island. Those who flew in on JFK Airport and looked outside have probably seen it. Unlike Coney Island, Rockaway is still a real island, although connected to Long Island via three access points (see my blog here).

Driving on the street or on the beach? The asphalt is covered with sand!

After some of us gathered at the APG office we headed to Queens. During our drive to Rockaway we constantly saw the same image at gas stations: either a deserted station with huge signs "No Gas" or a gas station with huge lines of at one side cars and at the other side people with all kind of jerry cans. Today I heard that the waiting time is now six (!!!) hours in some cases.

At the causeway that also leads to the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, the scenery started to change. The traffic lights were not working again, plastic and other waste was visible in fences in a straight line, indicating that the water level had been higher than the roof of our car recently.

Then we all of a sudden entered the "war zone".

Cars smashed against eachother
There was a huge traffic jam of cars going into the Rockaways. As soon as the first houses appeared the misery started. Police and Firemen were everywhere, and huge piles of muddy trash (refrigerators, chairs, couches, TVs, etc.) were at the street curb sides. We passed several food and water distribution centers with long queues. Midway volunteers were distributing food and water to the cars that passed by.

A different type of shocker: the MTA, who owns the bridge to the island was still charging tolls to people entering and leaving the island. SHAME ON YOU MTA!!!! Nobody is going or leaving here for fun now!

After the bridge, when we entered the island, we could not believe our eyes. Yes, we had seen the photos, we had seen the TV.

Protest
But now it was for real. All the streets were covered in beach sand, at some places it was more like we were driving on the beach than on asphalt. Car wrecks were standing along the roads. Some of them just parked. Others on top of or smashed against each other. Piles of muddy trash were almost in front of every house. Several huge trees were blow over. Signs with texts likes "Looters will be crucified." and "Looters will be shot." were in many places.

When we arrived at the house of the colleague, who lives one block away from the ocean front, we found a huge section of the Rockaway Boardwalk almost in his front yard, on top of some cars. Like with the fences another scar line, now with mud, at the height of my shoulders marked how high the water had been in his house. At least 1.

So sad!
5 meters (5 ft). 

When I stepped into the house it smelled like I stepped on the beach. Salty water and sand. He lost everything on the ground floor and in the basement. His plasterboard walls and his wooden floor were soaked. This was heart wrenching.

Together with some family members and a fireman who came to volunteer, we worked all day to remove everything from his house's ground floor and basement: walls, isolation, furniture, several layers of wooden floor, the kitchen, refrigerator, gas cooker, pool table, etc. etc. In the meantime we used a generator driven pump to get rid of the last gallons of sea water inside the house.

During my "lunch break" I walked a few blocks along the sandy (how could they name this hurricane Sandy?) roads towards the boardwalk, seeing more shocking things.

Boardwalk on top of boardwalk
Like: many more damaged and abandoned cars, some with the sand and water still inside, a lot of sand, houses with windows still covered in mud, many more protest signs, a lot of trash, and more sections of the former boardwalk. At the beach I saw that the whole boardwalk was lifted off its concrete pillars and was either blown away or smashed against the buildings along the shore. Tears came in my eyes seeing all this.

We worked till sunset. When we drove back to Manhattan, muddy and tired, I saw that the major part of Manhattan's south tip had power again. At least some progress for these New Yorkers. The people in Rockaway will probably have to go through a lot more pain and work before they too can say that the Sandy era is history.

More pictures below! (Taken with my Blackberry).

sylviandavid says:
It was reallly great that you helped your co-worker... You pulled together as an office and as friends.... Good for you!
Posted on: Nov 10, 2012
simsing says:
Looking at these pictures I feel so sad!
Some people lost their homes too. I wonder how they are going to survive in winter.
Posted on: Nov 05, 2012
Dr_Seuss says:
HArd to believe it's part of one of the world's most 'advanced' cities. The power of nature :O Still charging tolls on the bridge does seem a bit off.
Posted on: Nov 04, 2012
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
A car smashed onto a railing
A car smashed onto a railing
Driving on the street or on the be…
Driving on the street or on the b…
Cars smashed against eachother
Cars smashed against eachother
Protest
Protest
So sad!
So sad!
Boardwalk on top of boardwalk
Boardwalk on top of boardwalk
On the causeway leading to the bri…
On the causeway leading to the br…
Distribution of drinking water
Distribution of drinking water
The first irregularity
The first irregularity
Looters will be crucified!
Looters will be crucified!
Cry for help! (FEMA = Federal Emer…
Cry for help! (FEMA = Federal Eme…
Driving on the street or on the be…
Driving on the street or on the b…
A piece of the boardwalk came one …
A piece of the boardwalk came one…
A piece of the boardwalk came one …
A piece of the boardwalk came one…
Taking out the soaked items
Taking out the soaked items
Somebody tried to dry out his drwo…
Somebody tried to dry out his drw…
street view, some cars are parked,…
street view, some cars are parked…
In front of almost every house
In front of almost every house
The sand is shoveled away, like sn…
The sand is shoveled away, like s…
The sand is shoveled away, like sn…
The sand is shoveled away, like s…
The mud line indicates how deep in…
The mud line indicates how deep i…
Note the mud spatter on the window…
Note the mud spatter on the windo…
More muddy streets and muddy trash
More muddy streets and muddy trash
The cancellation of the marathon w…
The cancellation of the marathon …
More muddy streets and muddy trash
More muddy streets and muddy trash
No, I am not on the beach! I am st…
No, I am not on the beach! I am s…
Another boardwalk section smashed …
Another boardwalk section smashed…
Another boardwalk section smashed …
Another boardwalk section smashed…
The foundation of the former board…
The foundation of the former boar…
Another boardwalk section smashed …
Another boardwalk section smashed…
?
?
Another beach-like street
Another beach-like street
Houses near the beach
Houses near the beach
Sand on boardwalk which is in the …
Sand on boardwalk which is in the…
Car damage
Car damage
Car damage
Car damage
Happy Halloween!
Happy Halloween!
Car damage
Car damage
Car damage
Car damage
Far Rockaway - Queens - New York City - NY
photo by: mdalamers