Monday, November 5, 2012

Volunteering at Rockaway

The storm now referred to as Super Storm Sandy has wreaked havoc all over New York and New Jersey. As people started to mobilize, Pilgrim Surf + Supply became a meeting place for volunteers to convoy over to Rockaway to lend a helping hand in any way possible.  Photos don't give the full sense of loss and destruction laid upon the community of the Rockaways. 

As we drove to find our contact point, we passed block after block of flooded-out homes and streets buried in sand. Breezy Point wasn't the only area where houses burnt down. We spoke to a retired firefighter who told us how the firefighters were able to save what is left of his block from fire. 

Sunday the Rockaways were filled with volunteers. Morale was high as neighbor was helping neighbor and residents were pointing volunteers in the right direction. With all of the confusion as to where the help was really needed, we decided to head to a nearby church that is being used as a point of contact for people who need help and those who are there to help. After some time spent looking for the person with the list of people in need, we got our first address and away we went. 

Our first job was preparation for what we would be doing for the rest of the day and that was digging out people's driveways. And dig we did. The word must have gotten out because we were not even done with the first driveway and we already had the next one lined up. 

Amphibious Navy vehicle on the beach of Bell Harbor. 

Chief the pit bull keeping an eye on the block.

Photo Aeriel Yun

The beach had washed up several blocks from where it is normally is. We were on the last block before reaching the beach so it was particularly deep here. As luck would have it, some seamen from the Navy showed up to lend a hand. They were camped out on the beach just at the end of the block.

Photo Aeriel Yun

This driveway was extra special because it belonged to a man that was out helping the community. He was so busy helping that he couldn't work on his own place. The job was too big for one person. He came home just as we finished up and was most appreciative. We were all happy to do it. The neighbor next door made us some spaghetti to show her appreciation for digging out a walkway in front of her house. If you know Italian mothers then you know that you can't say no when they offer food.

Here is the deal on the digging. The city will only clean the public streets but will not come onto private property. Each home owner is responsible for their property and that's where the volunteers come in.

Group shot after digging out a driveway. Photo Aeriel Yun

The Navy packing it in and heading out to sea. 

What's left of the boardwalk at Beach 127th.

The view east from Beach 127th.

The writing is on the wall. 

A Navy ship holding it down.

The contents of flooded out homes sit out in the sand buried streets.  

Don't be fooled by the media saying the things are returning to normal. The subway may be coming back online and there is power for most of Lower Manhattan but most of the people on the coast of Rockaway, Broad Channel and Staten Island are homeless and cold. The destruction is massive and beyond words. If you are looking for a way to help, the best is to simply volunteer your time to clean up. If you can't do that I recommend checking out Occupy Sandy.

People are literally digging themselves out from their homes.

The sign reads: Sandy you're no match for the hearts of Beach 127th Street. I happen to agree. 

Here are some other resources to find ways to help out:
The Endless Bummer NYC
Rockaway Emergency Plan Facebook Page
Long Beach, NY Hurricane information Facebook page
SMASH: NYC. Facebook Page


  1. Good work all. Our thoughts are with you.


  2. nice work. blessings to ya'll.