2013-01-25 / Columnists

Broad Channel Bits

By Dan Guarino

Last Saturday the sun was shining through the streets of Broad Channel. It was even a little warm. Warm enough for a few people to go for a stroll just for the sake of strolling.

Down at the handball courts next to the BC Library, which is more and more looking like its ready to re-open, there were kids of varying ages and sizes. In coats or in t-shirts, they were skateboarding up and down the concrete court.

It seemed unusual probably because there was nothing unusual at all about it on a sunny Saturday afternoon in Broad Channel.

Here and there in our after-Sandy world, ‘normal’ will poke up. It will seem strange at first, out of place, because we haven’t seen it in so long.

But eventually it will take root. And then we’ll stop noticing it at all.

Message from the BCVFD: “Can you get the word out that the Broad Chanel Volunteers are having their 108th Anniversary dance on the last Saturday in February, place to be determined? We will be also publishing our Journal.

“We very much realize that many of our longtime advertisers and supporters have been devastated by the storm, as we were, but this journal has been published for almost our entire history and we wish to make an effort.

“Anyone wishing to help us in this endeavor, please contact the firehouse at 718-474-6888, contact me at 347- 678-5857 or visit our website and contact us via email.

“Our Facebook page is also very active and links will be provided. Thanks, Dan McIntyre, BCVFD.”

Many groups in the Channel have been working tirelessly since before Sandy landed and have been the hands helping hands through every day after.

Not long after the hurricane, while people were still picking up and chucking out the wet pieces, a neighbor told me his wife, Josette, had gone out to the St. Albans Veterans’ Hospital. She and the other ladies from the VFW, he said, “felt bad because usually we have the vets come down and we throw a party for them here.”

Since they couldn’t do that at the storm hit VFW hall, “the girls” organized transportation and went out to St. Albans to play games with, entertain, support and lift the spirits of the vets there.

This when almost every car in the Channel was destroyed and gas was beyond impossible to get.

Now that many organizations are regrouping and getting back to some regular activities, this column would like to help.

If you have news about your organization— whether it’s upcoming events, what you’ve been doing in the Broad Channel/Rockaways recovery, your members’ experiences or even general information or a description of your organization— send it along.

I will do my best to use it in the column and let everyone know about what you’re doing here in the Channel.

Send your information or a short write up to workingstories@aol.com.

Sorry you can’t leave it in the mailbox, but apparently the entire front of my house has been ripped off and replaced with boards.

Please keep me in mind…as I may need a place to live.

Many thanks to Stephanie Wagner for organizing her own BC relief fund and donation site, helping decorate the Boulevard for the holidays and bringing a great event and a lot of holiday cheer to the Channel.

You can read her story in last week’s Wave. It’s on page 55, with color pictures!

I’d also like to thank Ms. Wagner for one more thing. After years of people from Broad Channel being known as “Broad Channelers,” “Channelites,” “Channel People” and even “BC’ers” and, well, “people from Broad Channel,” she has added a new name to our BC dictionary.

As she says with great love for BC in the close of her very real, very touching story—“It’s great to be a ‘Chanimal’!”

Couldn’t have said it better.

Heard on NY1 News: “Residents of Broad Channel forced out by hurricane Sandy are slowly starting to return to their homes. Some say about half the population has moved back...” It notes “most first floors are still facing extensive repairs.”

BC’s own John Porcheddu was seen commenting on the delay in getting ‘advisory based flood elevation maps’ from FEMA, which give homeowners guidelines on raising their homes.

According to NY1, FEMA states it will start issuing these maps in stages starting at the end of this month.

Didn’t get your paper? The Wave was also hard hit by Sandy and all of its computerized subscription data was submerged.

The good news is as soon as that information is retrieved, papers will go out again. Your subscription will be extended for the time you weren’t getting the paper.

Check out the bright red new “Mini Library” box provided by Urban Librarians Unite and stationed out front of the BC Library. It’s a free ‘take a book’ provided by the group which at least as of January 10th had collected over 20,000 books to distribute to children and families in need in hurricane impacted areas.

Along with their toys, many children lost their beloved books. Many adults, too.

It might even remind a few people of the ‘take a book/give a book’ lending library at Charlie Kroog’s, (later Paul Coogan’s), luncheonette at the corner of Noel Road.

In this time of need Urban Librarians Unite is yet another group that’s taken it upon themselves to do what needs to be done. Clearly they, too, echo the words of Theodore Roosevelt: “I have come to help!”

My late wife, Liz, a proud certified librarian, would no doubt be pleased.

Finally, I would like to thank everyone for their good words about the column. I have received compliments via e-mail, by word of mouth and, last week, even in a letter to The Wave.

When I first took over this column I wanted to make sure I was doing justice to the work my wife had done and to Broad Channel.

I am humbled and honored to know that I have done right by both.

Thanks for reading.

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