2013-11-15 / Columnists

Eye On Rockaway

Election And Sandy Thoughts
By Miriam Rosenberg

Thank you to the Arverne Cancer Support Group and Councilman Donovan Richards for their recognition on November 4th.

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Congratulations to Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio. Now comes the hard part – putting together an administration. The first person de Blasio should give his walking papers to is NYCHA’s ineffective Chairman John Rhea. Parents will also be looking to see who the next mayor will put in charge of the Department of Education. And two words for police commissioner – Bill Bratton.

Speaking of NYCHA, Comptroller-elect Scott Stringer has announced that he is putting NYCHA under the microscope. On November 8th he promised there would be an unprecedented audit of the city housing authority.

Four-hundred-thousand NYCHA tenants look forward to the long over-due inquiry.

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Here’s a look at what was and still continues post-Sandy.

At approximately 7:55 p.m. on October 29th, 2012 Jim Dolan of Eyewitness News was reporting from Beach 116th Street as the water was already on the streets of Rockaway Beach Boulevard. At 8:10 the lights went out and the journey of Superstorm Sandy began on the Rockaway peninsula. It is a journey that continues today.

So many problems and worries persist. Among them residents on Beach 26th Street are concerned about protection for the bungalows should another storm happen. Belle Shores folks have not been able to return to their homes because the building was underinsured for floods and they cannot pay for contractors. Neponsit Adult Day Care are busing their clients to Brooklyn and back daily because they can’t get funding to repair their building. Families and businesses across the peninsula have yet to hear back or are still struggling with FEMA, the Small Business Administration, or Build It Back. Then there are the loopholes, loopholes that denied monetary help for items lost. Damage was one thing. Lost, as Senator James Sanders Jr. has said, is another. You lost items in your basement, a storage locker, or certain other places and excuse the expression – you lost out because FEMA doesn’t cover it.

But there was also immense good during the crisis. The Church of the Nazarene, Sanders’ office and the Far Rockaway Library ran big recovery efforts. The Rockaway Youth Task Force distributed supplies to area residents, even climbing the steps in elevatorless apartment buildings to make sure people got what they needed. There were also smaller acts of kindness. Among the many selfless acts that took place included two brothers giving out hot coffee and donuts on Beach 116th Street as people stood in the cold waiting for their phones to recharge. Then there was an ac-hoc group of residents who got together and gave out food and clothes on the corner of Beach 59th Street and Beach Channel Drive.

There is so much more to be done and will be for a long time. A speaker at one of the October 29th conferences I attended said a disaster area usually takes several years to rebound. But working together we’ll get us there sooner.

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