2012-12-21 / Columnists

Broad Channel Bits

By Dan Guarino

Framing the big picture, a front page Able News story by Daniel Early says this, “(Hurricane Sandy) would cause such a wide swath of damage to the densely populated states of New York, New Jersey and others that it would take the entire nation to aid…in its recovery.”

(My late wife Liz Guarino wrote extensively for Able and is permanently now listed on their masthead as ‘Staff Writer emerita”.)

It’s estimated that upwards of 17.5 million Americans were directly affected by the storm. It’s a shocking fact that at one point nearly all of Broad Channel was under water.

But it is our own stories before, during and after that storm though that make up that bigger picture. And boy, are there stories to tell.

Even amid the news of devastation and upheaval, there are the stories of remembrance, resiliency and renewal. Here are two of them for you.

If you're not reader of the Daily News, you might've missed the Saturday December 11 edition and a story called “All I Want For Christmas.” Dedicated P.S. 47 teacher Ms. Jeanine Stathis and her first grade class are proudly pictured there. Below News reporter Rheana Murray details how Ms. Stathis, volunteer computer teacher Dr. Louise Abrams and the class came up with a very special ‘wish list’ for their first Christmas after the storm.

More than toys, more than games or videos, these little ones wanted their Broad Channel back. They wanted the resources to rebuild homes or the tools to do it themselves. Or as 1st grader Brooke Arnao wrote, “I really want the whole world to be the same again. I just want everything to go back the way that it used to be.”

How wise, how strong and giving these children are. If there was any doubt as to Broad Channel’s future, I think we can all rest assured that it is in good hands.

On a personal note, Ms. Stathis and her lovely children have been my downstairs neighbors for several years. Thankfully I knew they had evacuated. I knew they were displaced like many of us. But I worried that they were okay. Nice to know they are.

Broad Channel photographer and author Marguerite Rocholl brings another tale to us, this time of BC in days gone by, in her newly published memoir “Before You Were Born.”

She writes, “My grandparents were the family pioneers who left the comfort of a Manhattan apartment to settle on an island with a population of only one hundred folks like themselves and very little amenities. My functional family memories include bootlegging, speakeasies and war heroes. But a very prominent feature of my life was my father's career as a New York Daily News photographer.”

In the book, now available through Amazon and other outlets, she describes the people, places and memories that could only happen in the Channel. Her father was award winning news photographer Ed Clarity.

No doubt many could use some memories of Broad Channel’s better days this Christmas. This book would be a perfect fit for those newly rebuilt shelves.

By the way, “Images of America: Broad Channel,” by Liz and Dan Guarino, is also readily available. I'll even sign it for you.

A good sign: Right off the Crossbay Bridge into BC you might have noticed a new brightly painted wooden sign has gone up. It proudly proclaims “Welcome to Broad Channel. Est. 1875.” It replaces the previous one which was washed away during the storm.

Still looking for your car? Check the City’s temporary lots on Beach Channel Drive either at Beach 80 Street or Beach 50th. It might be among the thousands towed there during hurricane cleanup operations.

When I was there looking for my own car I also saw several boats brought over from the Channel.

Bring the plate number (if it still had plates) or VIN and the personnel at either site will confirm if your vehicle is there. Your insurance company can pick it up from there.

Stopping in at Woodhaven’s Neirs Tavern last Sunday I had the great pleasure of catching part of the “Rebuild The Rock-3 Day Music Festival,” speaking with organizer Mike Palmer and enjoying great music played for a good cause. Supported by BC’s own Mason and Frank Perretto and other Rockaway musicians, the event raised relief money and also collected toys to brighten an otherwise difficult Christmas. (Yes, I donated and also brought a small stuffed friend.)

Even while rebuilding their own homes and lives, these musicians donated their time and talent to help others. As the festival Facebook page says “We lost everything except our spirit, our faith and our love of music. Come out and support…Broad Channel, Howard Beach, Rockaway and Breezy!”

I recently found a suitcase packed up while moving from here and there after the storm. Inside I found a bag full of old of remotes, salvaged and saved for some unknown reason.

Going to toss them, my six year old granddaughter Isabella asked me, “Can't we give them to people who don't have remote controls anymore?”

Note for homeowners: On December 17 new Flood Plain elevation codes, governing how high you can raise your house, were introduced to the City Council.

Via e-mail BC Civic Association President Dan Mundy Jr. states “the (In-creased Cost of Compliance) provision (included in many homeowner insurance policies) seems to be an opportunity for many in our community… who have already indicated their desire to raise their homes, to tap into an additional source of funding...”

“If I understood the FEMA rep most…residents do have the ICC provision… and have paid to have this opportunity as… part of (their) coverage. Some…have pointed out you do not have to wait on…repairs…to consider this. Many will fix up their homes and pursue this option. A hydraulic lift of your home, from what I am told, is minimally invasive from a damage point of view, (to sheetrock and such) and can be conducted after your home has been fixed up if the time frame involved is a consideration.”

Got more BC news? Send it to workingstories@aol.com.

Thanks for reading. Be well.

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