Belle Harbor, the Rockaways; The Struggle to Recover After Hurricane Sandy
It's over two months after Hurricane Sandy's storm and tidal surges flooded the entire Rockaway peninsula from the bay frontage to the Atlantic Ocean beaches. It was nighttime and there are few pictures of this as the entire peninsula was ordered to evacuate, but the bay met the ocean and there was no dry land between. All was awash in salt water.
Only those who didn't evacuate, only those huddling in the darkness of their second story bedrooms or apartments as the waters smashed through doors, cracks, basements, first stories, filling them with sludge, sewage, debris, stink and effluent, only these cowering in the darkness of their fears may have occasioned to look out a window and by some glimmer of light recognized the channels of water rivering up the streets, swirling waterlogged cars in whirlpools of fury and anything else that was not locked away or sheltered in concrete or steel.
Looking out their second story windows these brave and unsuspecting unevacuated would certainly have witnessed THE unprecedented horrific event of their lifetime, an event of sufficient magnitude to be imprinted on their memories for many lifetimes. They may have been shocked to see amidst the crashing, rushing waters, the flashing fires raging a few blocks away, lighting up the sky above 130th street in Belle Harbor. Most now know about Breezy Point's 100 or so homes burning. Many have not heard about Belle Harbor 130th Street. These homes were farther apart and more sturdily built than some of those in the burned out enclave on the Point. No matter. On 130th, the fires devoured house after house, their treasured contents, furniture, clothing, appliances, memories. Whatever flames could gorge upon and turn to blackened dust they ate up and for their effort, spewed out desolation and hopelessness.
How do I know this? It was in Dave's eyes as I spoke to him when he relayed that the ocean and bay met in the middle of the peninsula. He said that the streets had become rivers and cars floated upon them like ships foundering in a twisted sea. He is the one who mentioned that houses burned on 130th and few had commented about it in the news, that there was only so much reportage and sound bites didn't reveal the full impact of what had happened. He spoke with an urgency and with a tone filled with emotion and verging on rage.Continued on the next page