2013-03-08 / Columnists

Broad Channel Bits

By Dan Guarino

No doubt there were plenty of Broad Channel friends and neighbors out under chilly skies last week for the Rockaway St. Patrick’s Day parade. The turnout was massive. The cheering in parts was phenomenal!

Being one of the marchers in the parade, I, of course, missed most of it. But there are images that stick out.

As we turned right on Beach 116th Street, for instance, we ourselves cheered for the shopkeepers and newly re-opened businesses! “Look, Brown’s Hardware is open again!”, “Hey, the Fast Break place is back in business! (it’s the Paninico CafĂ© now),” “Wow, hey, hellooooo The Gift is Love!!!”

On Rockaway Beach Boulevard, we raised a cheer as we passed the now relocated Leon’s shoe repair on our right. Just ahead on our left, we would march past the burned out wreckage of the block where it used to be, before the hurricane.

When Leon himself appeared at the window of his newly re-opened shop, a new and rousing cheer went up. “Hey, Leon! Hey, Leon!! Welcome back!!!!!”

Perhaps the people around us, the invited guests like the Lynbrook Volunteer Fire Department just ahead of us (you guys are great!), must have thought we were lunatics.

That’s not that unusual really in our part of the world anyway. But call me crazy, please. Because as someone else- Marilyn Gelfand, recently said, I, too, have never been so ecstatically happy in my life than when I hear a new shop door open and see yet another sign in the window that proudly announces, “Yes, We Are Back!”

Here in the Channel, we welcome back the newly re-opened and redone Hamberry’s. Welcome back.

We also welcome PH Home Improvement, whose new awning has gone up on the Boulevard. We look forward to more.

Reminder: if you have a business that has opened or is re-opening here in the Channel, we want to tell the world. Send your information to the e-mail below.

We also welcome back our Broad Channel library and dedicated staff. Turns out they missed us greatly, too, just as we missed them. And they were worried about us here.

Did you know our librarian Carol Scheper is an EMT with West Hamilton Beach Volunteer Fire Department? She and the crew were also on duty the night Sandy blasted through and engulfed both our little towns.

They, like us, lost a lot to the storm.

If you were at the Broad Channel Civic Association meeting last Thursday night, February 28th, you, too, might have stood for three plus hours, but would not have wanted to miss a minute of it.

I saw not only old friends from BC but good friends from all over Rockaway and elsewhere. (Probably not a surprise, but all of us have lost weight.) Many even came from the many places to which they have been displaced.

Throughout the meeting both the implications of FEMA’s new Advisory Base Flood Elevations and the deep impact of the Biggert/Waters Insurance Act were discussed.

The short version is the ABFE’s state how high above sea level the lowest living space of your home has to be. Potentially the safety of your house in future storms depends on it. Definitely the rate for your flood insurance will be affected by it.

Biggert/Waters, enacted by Congress after Hurricane Katrina, basically phases out the federally subsidized rate for flood insurance that was in place up until that 2005 storm.

Hurricane Sandy or no, this would be going up. And even more than the talk of house raising, this would have a greater impact on the future of our area than everything else. Some would say it could possibly be more devastating than any future hurricane.

The BC Civic has gone on record as opposing both the new ABFE levels and the Biggert/Waters Act.

And as has been pointed out, we are not alone. The effects of these two items now circle in quite a number of neighborhoods, townships, counties, cities and municipalities. Consider for instance that Howard Beach, of all places, is now considered an at risk area.

These issues now directly impinge on Brooklyn, Manhattan, Staten Island, coastal New Jersey, Connecticut, all up and down Long island and who knows where else. We have all come through the hurricane together. We now have that common unbreakable bond.

Now we must lock arms and head into the future and our recovery together. I have no doubt that we will.

Dan Mundy Sr. pointed out at the meeting that we must now join together with other civic and government organizations in making ourselves heard.

As someone else said, “It’s not just us, not just Broad Channel, by itself anymore. It’s not just us and the Rockaways alone anymore. We’re not used to thinking like that. But that has all changed now.” More to come.

On another ongoing fight, our Assemblyman Philip Goldfeder had this to say, “I have fought to include funding in this year’s state budget to continue the residency rebate on the Cross Bay Bridge...this is a huge victory, but the fight will continue until the toll is free for every resident in Queens!”

While we’re at it, what about those of us who, due to now being displaced, may have to get or renew licenses/registrations under new addresses? Will we lose our Rockaway/BC resident status, because the storm has forced us to live elsewhere for the foreseeable future?

BTW have you noticed that since Sandy your regular mail has gone way down, but your e-mail has shot through the roof?

The Ruffle Bar, 919 Cross Bay Boule- vard, will be re-opening as of this Friday night, March 8th. Later over at Grassy’s there’ll be great live music.

If you’re sitting reading this paper Friday evening, get your coat on and get out of the house! There’s places you need to be.

There’s a NYC Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency workshop for Howard Beach/West Hamilton Beach/ Broad Channel on Thursday, March 14th, 7:30 p.m. Where: Russo’s on the Bay, 162-45 Crossbay Boulevard. RSVP: RSVPMarch14@nycsirr.org //212-618- 5745. They need our input.

Got BC news, information, events? Email: workingstories@aol.com.

Thanks for reading.

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