The Broad Channel Historical Society after Hurricane Sandy


Image source: Metrofocus – Barbara Torborg

Metrofocus from WNET 13 published an interesting article about the Broad Channel Historical Society and how it was affected by Hurricane Sandy, and how it’s repairing the historical documents that were damaged during the storm. In short – many things were damaged but they in the process of being repaired.

One of the celebrations they do every couple of years in this island community is to celebrate Historical Day – in 2012 it happened on Sunday, October 28 – one day before Hurricane Sandy hit. During that event – held at the VFW Hall – they sold copies of the 2013 Historical Calendar – according to Metrofocus, “the October calendar image is unintentionally prescient: a rowboat delivering mail in 1947 after flooding.”

The next day, all the homes on Broad Channel were affected by Sandy – lots of flooding, boats and such strewn about.


Image source: stephwagsz on Instagram

But after the event, there wasn’t enough time to move everything that was on exhibition during Historical Day, so they brought it all to a storage room that the Broad Channel Historical Society rents at the former St. Virgilius Parochial School. This was actually in their favor – the VFW Hall sustained much more damage than the school. So, the historical documents had a better chance of surviving. That said, many were soaked through, but the historical society is working on repairing them. If they had been in the VFW Hall, many might not have survived at all.

One of the more heartbreaking damages was to the society’s framed copy of the 1982 state legislation (complete with the pen used to sign it) that gave Broad Channel the ability to purchase its land rather than rent it from the city.

Barbara Toborg, chairperson of the historical society, said they were able to save the bulk of written and pictorial materials, though mildew is a threat. She believes much of the photographs and papers can be fixed. She also believes that material losses are minimal. She’s more concerned with a kind of “diaspora” that could happen with many in the community. Already, four society members have left, their homes destroyed.

That said, the community in Broad Channel is a tight-knit, strong one and will likely be back on their feet a year from now.

Piecing History Together After Sandy [Metrofocus]
UPDATED – Broad Channel also abused by Hurricane Sandy [QNYC]
Feeling forgotten in the Rockaways after Hurricane Sandy [QNYC]
Broad Channel Police Department organizes itself in the wake of Hurricane Sandy [QNYC]