Although the city just released plans to restore and improve the Rockaway Beach boardwalk, damaged by Sandy, there is no timetable and and no plans to build up a protective seawall. DNAinfo attended a community board meeting last night, in which the city presented plans for the $200 million restoration project. FEMA previously recommended constructing a seawall — which would lower the new home-elevation requirements, as well as the cost of flood insurance — but it was not included in preliminary designs. Instead, the city proposed baffle walls and TrapBags along the beach. They also proposed to elevate the boardwalk and place rocks, fill, grasses and vegetation underneath to protect it against a storm surge. Residents expressed anger that the city couldn’t offer an actual timeline for these improvements, and felt a vulnerability to any future storms. The city hopes to begin working on the boardwalk by the end of the year.
A while back we told you about the property buyout plan from Governor Cuomo that would take damaged homes, raze them, and leave the land as a sort of buffer zone against future storms. But WNYC reports on another buyout plan, this time coming from the Mayor’s office. While the Cuomo plan would use that purchased land strictly as “open space for use as parks, wetlands, drainage or other purposes,” the Mayor’s plan could use that same purchased land for development in the future. In the words of Brad Gair, the director of the city’s housing recovery office, “These are valuable properties. There is a limited amount of coastline properties.”
Image source: Reuters via Travelers Today – what’s left of the boardwalk in some places in the Rockaways
WNYC wrote about some of the changes coming to the Rockaway beaches this summer, from the plans by the city’s Parks Department:
They include a boardwalk made of reclaimed wood and walkways with broom finish concrete; new Pavilions with wrap around billboards; and new bathrooms and lifeguard stations that will stand 12-feet above the beaches, in compliance with FEMA’s 500-year flood plan.
If you’ve paid attention to the flooding in the Rockaways from Hurricane Sandy, it’s probably not a surprise that much of Howard Beach (GMAP) is now considered to be in a flood zone in the new FEMA maps, which were released last week. The Queens Chronicle reports that the flood zone includes “the entire neighborhood south of the Belt Parkway and a section of Lindenwood west of 84th Street are now considered flood hazard zones.”
The Nation has a photo essay that sings the praises of Occupy Sandy’s hurricane relief efforts in the Rockaways. This confirms some of the things we had heard – that early on, the Red Cross and FEMA were nowhere to be seen, while Occupy Sandy was there on the ground and exhibiting organized effectiveness. The Occupy movement, which has been at the end of some serious criticism in the past, was called “phenomenal” in this article:
The NYDN reports that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will be using the old JetBlue space in the Forest Hills Tower building on Queens Boulevard (GMAP) in which to coordinate Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. Ironically, back in April when JetBlue moved to LIC, Leslie Brown, president of the Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce said, “Hopefully, [we’ll] get another big client to fill those spaces.” FEMA certainly fits the bill.
As we mentioned yesterday, there was FEMA hope for the Rockaways in the form of a visit from the agency, and that is exactly what happened – Administrator Craig Fugate did visit the area on Sunday, according to the FEMA blog:
Administrator Fugate then traveled to Breezy Point, Queens to survey the ongoing response and recovery efforts in the borough. FEMA teams are on the ground there registering survivors for financial assistance from FEMA. It’s important to remember that the first step to receive financial assistance is to register by calling 1-800-621-FEMA or visiting www.dissasterassistance.gov on a computer or mobile device.
As of this afternoon, more than 182,000 people have registered with FEMA and over $158 million has been approved.
The Administrator then drove to Rockaway, Queens to survey the response and recovery efforts. There, FEMA staff, the National Guard, New York Fire Department and New York Police Department, and private sector cell phone companies, were all working together to support disaster survivors. By far, the largest effort has been neighbors helping neighbors clean out homes and start down the road to recovery together.
Also in Rockaway, the Administrator stopped by a FEMA Mobile Disaster Recovery Center, where survivors can find out about the federal financial assistance programs that are available. The center was being manned by FEMA staff as well as FEMACorps members (you can find out more about FEMACorps here).
Finally, the Administrator stopped by the Community Church of Nazarene in Far Rockaway, where Rev. Dr. Les Mullings and Congressman Gregory Meeks showed the Administrator around the congregation which was working tirelessly taking in and distributing clothing, as well as serving hot meals to disaster survivors.
Hurricane Sandy surivors were feeling forgotten after days of no visits from FEMA, though parts of the peninsula were helped out by the National Guard, the Navy, and in Broad Channel a self-organized community police department also helped out their community.
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Over on Brokelyn, they’ve published a great list of resources in case your apartment or business has sustained damage or flooding from Hurricane Sandy.
Even if you were hyper-responsible and remembered to get renters insurance (thanks roommate), turns out weather related flooding is considered an “Act of God” (cue boiling blood) and is not covered anyway. While a week ago your basement apartment was filled with secondhand and Ikea junk, now it’s a den of gross black mold. Your landlord’s insurance policy will cover the structural damage, but your personal property is your own problem. Our Congresswoman, Nydia M. Velázquez, put together the following list of contact information for federal, state, and city emergency relief and response programs to help you and your small business recover from this terrible disaster asap.
Here are the agencies that can help, in a quick and dirty list:
During the days leading up to the arrival of Hurricane Sandy, most of us have heeded the suggestions of storing enough water, candles, batteries, food, etc. in order to survive the storm. But another element to take into consideration is being “tech ready.” FEMA has a whole page devoted to this truly 21st century task. (more…)