Image source: dakine kane on Flickr
The International Business Times reported on the frustration Queens officials have been feeling and voicing since Hurricane Sandy hit. City Councilman Dan Halloran, who represents northeast Queens saw the damage in the Rockaways and environs and said:
If you go to Breezy or Howard Beach, it’s devastation everywhere. Fire damage, wind damage, water damage. You’ve got boats washed up on the streets, houses, roofs and stuff literally washed up alongside the beachfront areas. There were homes completely underwater. It’s going to take years to get Breezy back together. It’s going take months to get the rest of the city’s coastal areas back together. It’s not pretty.
Adam Lombardi, a community advocate from Auburndale (a part of Flushing) said:
Some places are far more of a crisis than others, but in all reality the trees have wreaked havoc on many residential blocks. We’re not just talking about a car being crushed; we’re talking about 100-year-old trees taking out a lot of the infrastructure, and it’s not an overnight fix. I’m not an engineer, but when giant sections of blocks are still cordoned off and people can’t even get onto their blocks, it’s really frightening. It’s devastation really.
Those in positions of city and community leadership in Queens are using social media – twitter and Facebook primarily – as well as traditional media – TV, radio, and print – to get people to listen about their area’s plight. They are especially eager to wrest the attention of the utilities (ConEd, LIPA), non profits, churches, and higher-ups in government, and convince them to put their attention and efforts in the areas they believe are the most needy. In general, many in places like the Rockaways feel that response to their situation has been too slow.
Halloran said, “As far as I can tell, 75 percent of the city of New York has had power restored, except for the borough of Queens, where 75 percent has not been restored.” Much of Manhattan has already gotten its power and services back.
Instead of waiting for outside help, some communities are organizing themselves. In northeast Queens (communities like Whitestone, Beechhurst, and Bayside), Devon O’Connor, the founder and president of Welcome to Whitestone, has organized a donation drive. In Broad Channel, a group of about 20 men have dubbed themselves the Broad Channel Police Department and are helping their neighbors do everything from clean out houses, to fix their boilers, to siphon gas out of destroyed cars to use in generators. Many small businesses and neighborhood groups have found ways to organize donation drives and volunteer groups to head to places like the Rockaways.