2013-02-22 / Columnists

Broad Channel Bits

Commentary By Dan Guarino

I took a walk down Church Road last Saturday, the ‘other’ section, bounded by East 16th and East 20th Roads. On one side it runs behind the library, the parks, the tennis and handball courts. On the other side are the houses just along the edge of the Bay.

At one time in Broad Channel’s past, long since gone, the two parts of Church Road were connected and went all the way through.

I had walked down this road, in the same direction, before. Notably my camera and I climbed over wreckage the morning after the storm.

Now I stopped at 1838 Church Road.

Once, years ago, I stopped there to take a picture of a beautiful bungalow over the water, the ground and its railings all covered with snow.

A month or two ago I stopped and watched as men hauled away the roof of that beautiful house; the last thing left from the wreckage where it stood. Memories, even this close, may be faulty, but I believe the man there, whose family’s house this had been, told me it was built in 1908 and had stood for all this time. Until the storm.

A week ago this Saturday I stood on the spot where I had spoken with this man, my neighbor on this island.

All there was were some cross beams over the water, a twisted deck, a bent railing and a sign that read in happier times “The Bungalow. O’Reilly. 1838 Church Road.”

Walking back to the road I noticed, there on the ground, a near perfect, brightly painted mailbox. Its flag was down; no mail today. It was all that was left. “O’Reilly,” it said again. “Welcome.”

*****

The Broad Channel Civic Association is meeting on Thursday, February 28th at 7:30 p.m. at the American Legion Hall. FEMA officials have been invited to talk about the new Flood Elevation Maps and the Biggert/Waters 2012 Flood Insurance Reform Act.

I spoke with Civic president Dan Mundy Jr. while he was manning the dispatch center at the BCVFD firehouse. He explained that both these items would have a great effect on residents all over the area, including the Rockaways and Howard Beach, and hopefully FEMA could clarify a lot of issues around them.

Turns out that Dan, his dad Dan Mundy Sr. and a dedicated core of Broad Channel citizens have been working with city, state and federal agencies and officials since right after the storm.

Smart.

There was quite a crowd at Grassy’s last Friday night as three bands belted it out for a full house of BC/ Rockaway people and guests who really needed a night out.

Thanks to BC’s own Mason and Frank Porretto (and their band The Poorhouse) for putting it all together.

Speaking of music, BC crooner Gary Russo tells me he’ll be playing weekly at the Aqueduct Racino. More details to come.

Seen in last week’s Wave: The white bike on the Cross Bay median is back in one piece.

Many thanks to Jim Murphy and his family for supplying the missing wheel. By the way, the white spray paint and the air fill up were acquired just over the bridge at Paul’s Bike Shop and Brown’s Hardware.

Nothing against the Home Depots of the world, but now more than ever it’s important to shop local and support the businesses that support our community.

One more goodbye: Matt Smilardi beautifully posted the following:

“RIP John Grillman, beloved Noel Road neighbor. John always was a smiling block sentry even before the hurricane. Always waved and smiled…never talked much. I had the pleasure of spending a lot of time with John in the weeks post-Sandy, listening to his stories about how Broad Channel used to be; how much he loved it; how much he loved our block. As I said, he never really spoke to people and it felt like a great honor just listening to his life story. I am so glad I had the privilege of knowing such a kind spirit and I will miss seeing him smile when things go back to normal. I think we will all miss that.”

Finally we have a Broad Channel Sandy tale from Dorothy Fraher, who tells it best.

“I don’t have a second story, so when the tide was so high the morning of the 29th, I decided to get out of town.

“So glad I did, or I would be having nightmares, like my neighbors, of hearing the water rushing into the house, seeing it halfway up the windows of the house across the street and wondering when it would STOP.

“I, too, have a story to tell you. Knowing I was displaced and that I had medical issues and was scheduled for kidney surgery, Kathy O'Sullivan went way out of her way to tell me about the Mormons and what they were doing. She would put me in touch with them.

“She actually brought two guys into my house, and Elder McEwan, a young man who was spearheading the efforts of the Latter Day Saints in BC. He was very organized, dedicated to helping -- and overwhelmed by the need of so many residents.

“He had printed lists of people they scheduled already and added me to his list He kept in contact with me until he was able to put me in touch with Drew Perry-- a 15 year old Eagle Scout and his dad Dan Perry. They put together 12 others from Manhattan to work on my project -- gutting my house.

“His mother, Tory, coordinated with me and them and on November 17th fourteen men and women took out everything.

“I have pictures of them working.

They took pictures, too, as it was a life experience project for the Eagle Scout.

“Kathy and the Latter Day Saints helped me at a crucial time and paved the way for me to start the process of rebuilding my home on 14th Road.

“Bless them all! I hope their kids and grandkids can read about their good works.”

Amen.

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

Thanks for reading.

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