Hurricane Sandy close to home

We lucked out in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. Hurricane Sandy’s raucous winds and flooding barely affected us. Aside from being kind of stuck in Brooklyn for a week while the transit system was repaired, the direct impact on us was minimal. And Jessey and I definitely appreciate all the friends and family who checked in on us throughout it all.

The damage elsewhere was, and still is, debilitating. Friends in the East Village were displaced due to flooding in their buildings and an extended loss of power, water, heat and other utilities, half of the island of Manhattan was without power for days, some of our friends in New Jersey and outer areas of New York still don’t have access to transit, electricity or heat. Most of all, many of the coastal communities were all but destroyed.

This includes my Aunt Betty and Uncle Artie’s town, Broad Channel, a tiny sliver of land that connects Howard Beach and the Rockaways, with the bay on one side and the ocean on the other, both of which surged to heights never seen before.

My aunt and uncle are okay. Their house is raised above the ground and so it got about one and a half or two feet of water. They will have to gut the downstairs, but most of their possessions besides furniture and appliances are salvageable. A boat slammed into their back deck, destroying much of the backyard, but they are safe and sound, and that is all that matters.

Their backyard, post-hurricane.

The edge of their backyard, covered with debris.

Aunty Betty and Uncle Artie talk with neighbors as they pass by in front of their house, which sustained minimal damage comparatively.

Aunt Betty looks through damaged keepsakes.

My cousin’s high school diploma, damaged by floodwaters.

Some of their neighbors were not so lucky. When I arrived there on Friday afternoon with my brother and our friend Brian, people were busy throwing everything they owned onto the street. It was like a war zone in Broad Channel, boats strewn all over the road, flooded out cars piled up on the median where people thought they would be safe from the floodwaters. City trucks and earth movers collected the refuse, people picked through coats and other warm clothing that had been donated to their community, some people walked around in disbelief at the havoc that had been wrought on their small, tight-knit community, several days after the flood.

All of the boats from the yacht club piled up in someone’s front yard.

My aunt and a neighbor check out the local yacht club, whose boats piled up in the yard next door.

My aunt and her friend, who lives a few houses down the block, look out at the damage from her ruined house.

A neighbor who is helping my aunt and uncle clean out their house takes a break to eat pizza and gaze out at the damage through the back door.

It will take a long time to rebuild, both the houses and infrastructure, but also people’s whole lives. Everyone seems confident, though, that the community will eventually be back to way it was.

If you have anything clothing or supplies you would like to donate to the people in Broad Channel, let me know and I can arrange a pick-up, or connect you with people who definitely need it.

See the whole set of images on Flickr.