2005-10-07 / Columnists

On The Bayfront

By Elisa Hinken

In My Opinion…

Rockaway residents must push New York City to make specific plans for evacuation of all residents in Rockaway, including our Nursing Home and other senior citizen residences. Detailed plans are important. Residents will become bottlenecked at all exits of the Rockaway peninsula in an attempt to leave. Reversal of roads MUST be made part of the plan. Evacuation to Aqueduct Racetrack isn’t enough. Residents should be prepared to drive to the mountains, a short 25 miles away. Those who need to use public transportation should take Amtrak or MetroNorth.

All residents should have a “Go Bag” ready to use at all times.

Take the cell phone charger with you and take the car adapter with you as well. Those who had cell phones in New Orleans charged their phones off of the car battery.

All residents should have emergency supplies, including battery-operated radio, flashlights and batteries, bottled water, canned food and a handheld, manual can opener. Homeowners should consider buying solar landscaping lights that can be brought into the house at night when there is no power. Put the landscaping stake into a pot filled with dirt (or rocks). We’ve needed to do this a few times and it worked like a charm. Each of us had our own light to carry around (like a torch).

We must protect our Jamaica Bay from any type of filling so water levels don’t rise any further than what is naturally occurring.

Protect dunes on the beach. They are buffers and barriers that may give someone a few minutes more to prepare for evacuation.

Informational sessions by the Office of Emergency Management alone won’t help Rockaway. We need a constant presence, possibly shared with Coney Island, which is situated in the same predicament the Rockaway peninsula is. Emergency drills should be scheduled on a regular basis.

All residents should pay attention to hearings that will emerge as a result of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Local response can not be contingent on federal response during the first hours during and following a storm.

Make copies of all personal identification, including birth certificates, social security cards and household insurance policies. If you haven’t videotaped the contents of your home yet, do it now and update it as you bring new items in. CVS pharmacies sell disposable video cameras. Keep these copies in a safe place OFFSITE. Consider sending these documents to a relative in another part of the state or country to send back to you if an emergency should exist.

Don’t wait until mandatory evacuations occur. Consider leaving voluntarily to beat the traffic.

Rockaway is becoming rapidly overdeveloped at this point. Our city officials should consider a temporary housing moratorium until the infrastructure can be updated to accommodate what is already underway.

In Other News…

A big fight is now underway in Washington. Some legislators want to eliminate “critical habitat” to lessen the restrictions on development. The Rockaway peninsula, including Jamaica Bay, Broad Channel and Breezy Point is threatened by this piece of legislation, brought on by House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo, a California rancher who is acting on his own best interests, not the interests of the American public. We have a wealth of critical habitat surrounding us. Call and write to your U.S. Senators and Congressmen to veto this dangerous piece of legislation, because it is only the FIRST shoe to drop…

The SECOND shoe to drop...

Our National Parks are up for sale? Again, House Resources chairman Richard Pombo is circulating a draft of a bill that would sell 15 national parks and require the National Park Service to raise millions of dollars by selling the naming rights to visitors’ centers and trails. Pombo’s spokesman said the proposal, written by Pombo’s House Resources Committee staff, is intended only to influence lawmakers to support an item in the budget bill that would permit oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. “These proposals for the national park system are unconscionable,” said Craig Obey, vice president of the National Parks Conservation Association. “It’s hard to believe anyone could even contemplate drafting something this extreme.”

Teddy Roosevelt must be turning over in his grave. The entire Rockaway peninsula and Broad Channel are heavily influenced by what goes on in the National Park Service. The selling of national parks in order to make way for commercial development is in direct violation of the goals and mission of the U.S. Department of the Interior, which manages our National Park Service. It was founded on the pledge to protect the Nation’s natural, cultural, and heritage resources; manage resources to promote responsible use and sustain a dynamic economy; provide recreation opportunities for America; safeguard lives, property and assets, advance scientific knowledge, and improve the quality of life for communities served; and manage the department to be highly skilled, accountable, modern, functionally integrated, citizen-centered and result-oriented.

And Finally…

Former Rockawayites who wanted to summer in Rockaway ended up renting houses and apartments in Atlantic Beach and Long Beach this past summer. They told me they looked at numerous places available in Rockaway Park and Belle Harbor, but ended up not renting there because there is no place to park! I wonder how many homeowners could not rent apartments or had to let them go at a cheaper rate because of the new parking problems? I feel this could lead to a decrease in property values down the road. As the old saying goes, “Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.”

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