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Rockaway Locals…You Tell Us! Get Your Voice Heard!

In our feature, reporter, Kami-Leigh Agard scours the streets to get your opinion on current issues facing the peninsula.

Your Voice…Your Community…Your Platform

With the fifth anniversary of Superstorm Sandy approaching this Sunday, October 29, we asked locals a host of questions such as: Are things better for you SINCE sandy? Do you feel safer than BEFORE Sandy? Would you stay if ANOTHER Sandy hit? What GOOD came out of Sandy?

Locals weighed in:

 

BRIAN FITZGERALD

Retired Fireman

Belle Harbor, NY

“I have lived in Rockaway for 50 years, and I have seen a lot of storms pass through. So would I stay if another Sandy hit? Undoubtedly, yes! I have not seen many significant changes in Rockaway since Sandy with the exception that a lot of people got their houses renovated. Some — the fortunate few— were able to rebuild without any cost out-of-pocket, however, the majority of us had to use our savings towards rebuilding. Also, Sandy opened up Rockaway to an influx of new people coming from places like Williamsburg, Brooklyn and Manhattan, who have different views, making Rockaway not as closed as we used to be. With the fifth anniversary of Sandy approaching, I don’t see anything to celebrate. Sandy caused a lot of hardship, and now five years later, the recovery for many is still very slow. Build It Back (BIB) is dragging its feet, leaving many residents to this day, displaced from their homes. I don’t believe the Mayor when he says 95 percent of homes were rebuilt with BIB. My basement is eight feet high, and I got 7 feet, 11 inches of water, and had to pay for everything myself. Sandy did bring neighbors together, but to be honest, Rockaway has always been like that.”

 

BARBARA TOBORG

BC Civic Assoc. Member

Broad Channel, NY

“Superstorm Sandy was ‘super’ because it brought out the best in people. People from all over the country came to help us, not just with basic necessities needed at the time, but also to motivate us to stay focused and positive despite the devastation. After Sandy hit, folks in Houston, Texas thoughtfully sent Broad Channel (BC) residents lovingly-crafted handmade stars to inject hope in our community after we were slammed by Sandy. Now, five years later, here we are paying it forward by doing the same. Recently BC residents — adults and children alike — came together to create and ship handmade stars to Texans who were slammed by Hurricane Harvey. I look at this fifth anniversary of Sandy not just only as a somber remembrance of a horrific event that decimated our community, but also as a joyous occasion to commemorate how everyone banded together to help each other rebuild. Sandy didn’t just make us rebuild our homes, but it also fortified our community’s heart, making us even more spiritually resilient and BC strong!”

 

CLAUDETTE FLATOW

Proprietor, Cuisine

by Claudette

Rockaway Park, NY

“How do I feel since Sandy? Wonderful! We live and own our business in a great neighborhood of residents who all came together to help each other after Sandy. It was a united effort, making us all become even more beautiful. Am I worried about another storm, especially with the devastations reported with hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria? No, because we cannot live with fear. What are you going to do? This is Mother Nature! And with Mother Nature, you don’t ask questions. I didn’t leave after Sandy because I invested a lot of money here, and more importantly, if I left, I would be showing my two kids that I am a loser and that I gave up. I am going to keep on fighting for survival to the end, even if I have to fight with my bare nails. I mean this from the bottom of my heart — if we ever close Cuisine by Claudette, it would be after making a clear decision that we are tired and want to pass on the business to someone else. But no, a storm is not going to close us. Sandy brought the community together, and actualy made us all better people.”

 

CARMEN PEÑA-PERALTA

Wife & Mom

Arverne, NY

“The possibility of another Sandy hitting Rockaway is definitely possible, especially with climate change, and watching the detrimental devastation other hurricanes such as Irma and Maria have wreaked. Rockaway is definitely not safe, as I feel that Sandy opened up the door for other storms to hit us again. If a hurricane with the caliber of Maria hit NYC, Rockaway would literally be washed away. Would I still stay here? Yes. I have no choice! This is my family’s home. We invested a lot to live here, so we can’t just pick up and leave. I’m crying as I say this, but the most painful part of Sandy was how confused and lost my kids felt. When they came home, they didn’t understand what happened. They knew there was a storm, but their home was destroyed. It was heartbreaking to explain to them what Mother Nature could do. After the storm, we went to stay with my husband’s family in Brooklyn and our children’s school was re-located to Jamaica, Queens. Life, as they knew it, drastically changed. However, now that they are older, they understand the value of community service by participating in beach cleanups and learning about the importance of dunes and rock jetties. I feel our officials are taking it lightly how desperately Rockaway needs coastal protection. Yes, the peninsula got a brand new boardwalk, and Rockaway, a hidden treasure, was thrust into the spotlight. Folks like to talk about the Rockaway Renaissance as a lot of new businesses opened up, however, many long-time businesses were not able to reopen due to the devastation. Is that progress?”

 

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