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Fort Tilden Revisited – one year after the Storm

A century ago, guardian of the Atlantic approach to NY Harbor.  Artillery with a range of 25-miles pointed seaward waiting for the German ships that never came – save perhaps for a handful of shadowy U-boats, seen and unseen.

A patch of sandy desolation on the fragile narrow spit of the Rockaway Peninsula, which barely rises between ocean and the Jamaica Bay.  In the distance, a proud Manhattan skyline – a mirage of a completely different world – hazy and not quite existent.

Wars of the sea gave way to wars of the air.  The big guns were traded in for the Nikes, missiles designed to knock high-altitude Soviet bombers out of the Metropolitan sky.

And then, a few decades ago – total obsolescence, abandonment, and decay.  Gutted shells, overgrown and sinking into the sand, which in turn, minute by minute, sinks into the waves.  It’s lately been a playground of the fringes – artists, photographers, graffiti, and seekers of ramshackle ephemera.

The hurricane pummelled the city, and the peninsula took a huge punch, a slap in the face of human futility.  For that night, the peninsula did not exist, but became ocean and bay – Neighborhoods near the isolated base washed away and burned.  Sand piled high like snow drifts that never melt, overturned cars, buried homes and memories.

Pieces of Tilden dissolved into the waves.  But what is already ruined is hard to ruin again.  At this former fort, a few solid walls are down, the sand mounts high, and a faint, musty, low-tide smell still faintly emits from the ground below.  But the gun battery embedded in the bluffs still stares blankly into the sea, awaiting 100-year-old dreadnoughts and battleships that will never appear.  Since the Storm, it’s become barricaded, forbidden, heavily patrolled by the authorities – a no man’s land – A silent sentinel upon the wild dunes of a wild beach on the barren coastal fringes of the City.

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Hurricane Sandy – Relief and Recovery – as of evening, November 7, 2012

On Friday, I compiled my running string of Facebook and Twitter posts dealing with “Superstorm” Sandy.  Today, with relief and recovery efforts underway, and as another nor’easter bears down on the NY – NJ metropolitan region, I once again present a compilation of my hour-to-hour posts.

Some photosets of post-storm NYC:

Scenes from a blacked out Manhattan:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/mattron/sets/72157631914010512/

Scenes from the Rockaways: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mattron/sets/72157631950208338/

Rockaway Beach Blvd.

As nightime temperatures approach freezing, millions are still without power, and many communities are completely displaced.  People are no less in dire straits than they were when the storm hit.  Here are a few resources for those who need help, and those who can offer help:

http://www.newyorkcares.org/
http://www.artfagcity.com/2012/11/01/how-to-volunteer-for-hurricane-sandy-clean-up/
http://www.nyc.gov/html/nycservice/home.html
http://abcnews.go.com/US/hurricane-sandy-victims/story?id=17598687#.UJP0WXYy2kA

A site specific to the Rockaways – a resource for volunteers and those needing help:  http://rockawayhelp.com

By all accounts I’ve heard and seen first hand, OccupySandy has been doing an excellent job getting into areas and helping in ways that conventional relief agencies have been unable to:
Check out the site if you need help, or can provide it:  http://interoccupy.net/occupysandy/

An NYC.gov apartment sharing resource.  Be a host, or a guest!  https://www.airbnb.com/sandy

– A tremendously comprehensive crisis map from Google. Even a week after the storm, things are changing hour to hour, so always double check!:   http://google.org/crisismap/2012-sandy

Text SHELTER + zip code to 43362 (4FEMA) to receive information on the nearest shelter in your area

Friday, November 2, 2012 –

Yesterday I took some photos from within the “blackout zone” of Manhattan, the immense stretch from 34th Street to the Battery:

Looking down Broadway – post Sandy blackout

The full photoset:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/mattron/sets/72157631914010512/

– Lights are coming back on in Manhattan, and the marathon has been cancelled.  You can probably hear the cheering from space.  It’s just in time too.  Manhattan is dealing really well, but I can’t see it taking the lack of access to food and water for too much longer.

– In the city alone, more than 200 lost pets need foster homes:  gothamist.com/2012/11/02/urgent_adopt_or_foster_these_dogs_a.php

– An incredible shot of a darkened Chinatown:

– So power’s coming back rather quickly to Manhattan – Considering the nightlife “meccas” that were hit, whatever bar manages to open is surely going to see a rager tonight.

It was before I was born, but many recall that during the blackout of 1977, which didn’t last nearly as long, the city saw terrible rioting and looting. I can’t say enough about all the comraderie and generosity I’ve seen; people really did become reacquainted with their immediate neighbors. You see it often on the news happening in other parts, but it’s really striking to see the Nat’l Guard handing out MRE’s in NYCNow that things are looking up for Manhattan, hopefully more attention can be focused on the really devastated areas in the Rockaways, the Brooklyn oceanfront, and, of course, the Jersey Shore and Staten Island. It’s a neighborhood most people don’t know, but it’s coming out that Gerritsen Beach in Brooklyn, which was not officially in the Zone A evacuation area, saw tidal surge upwards of 8 feet. Another shattered neighborhood among many.On a brighter side, many would-be marathon participants are offering help and their hotel rooms to the displaced. Also, the NY Aquarium, which was completely flooded, seems to be on the path of recovery, with most of the animals unharmed.

– From Staten Island:  “It was like tsunami going through my house. It was up to the attic”

in the Rockaways

Jersey City and Bayonne are back on the grid, may be another week for the Rockaways. Floyd Bennett Field is a staging ground. People are waitng on line for more than 4 hours for gas – one stretches for two miles. Some counties are enacting rationing – (even days for plates that end in an even number)

They’re still looking survivors all along the shore. Many have lost everything. Devastation and terrible stories from Connecticut down to New Jersey – The world’s 4th largest metropolitan area and then some.

– Text SHELTER + zip code to 43362 (4FEMA) to receive information on the nearest shelter in your area
Saturday, November 3, 2012
– Red Hook (Brooklyn) Recovery graphic.  Variations on the same are being played out all over the region:
– A bunch more trains coming on line today – the L is still filled floor to ceiling.  Fuel shortages continue, as does the grief in the hard hit areas of our city and region   .
It’s been a week since my first post about the storm, when the heavy salty air hung over the city and the vanguard clouds began to appear.   I’ve heard it said that the way people react during the first week of a disaster is a no-brainer, in fact sometimes the numbers coming out to help overwhelms the coordination.

It’s the weeks after that count just as much – after all the news moves on and daily routine returns. People and places will still need help long after the cameras go away.
Sunday, November 4, 2012 –
– More looting and the power outage continues in Coney Island, Sheepshead Bay, et al..  Situation’s getting more desperate, and it sounds like FEMA and the Red Cross have been ineffective in those parts most affected.  Donations are needed – cleaning supplies are particularly running short.  Also, places like Staten Island need people on the ground. Some are asking volunteers to just show up, as coordination has been dicey.
– There is some false info circulating about how to contact FEMA – the best thing is to go to their website www.fema.gov  The phone number listed on the site is: (800) 621-3362
– Some runners who would have competed in the marathon today are running supplies down to Staten Island.
– A great resource for those in need and those who can help in the Rockaways: http://rockawayhelp.com/
– Looting and poor sanitary conditions. This is getting on the brink of a big emergency:
– The cover of this week’s New York Magazine:
Monday, November 5, 2012-
– I’m seeing this mentioned on various sites:   Of immediate need are cleaning supplies, OTC medicine and toiletries, and, with the nighttime temperature hovering over freezing, warm clothes for all ages. (gloves, hats, coats, etc..)
– Info on polling site changes: http://www.scribd.com/doc/112102908/Poll-Site-Change-Post-Sandy  Also you can check – http://gis.nyc.gov/vote/ps/index.htm
or call 1-866-VOTE-NYC
-Long live the Rockaways!
– Mobile Medical Clinic has been set up today in Coney Island – 2828 Neptune Avenue between 28th & 29th Street. Please Share info with folks in need. #SandyAid

The Rockaways

Tuesday, November 6, 2012 (Election Day)
– NYers living in disaster areas can vote at any polling site in the state
– Mobile health unit in Howard Beach. Cross Bay and 157th Ave
– Broad Channel is also a mess. Just passed a boat in the street
– Sign in the Rockaways:  “Sandy was a bitch.  We’ll be back”
– FDNY handing out blankets at B116 near the A train.  Also a large FEMA/Natl Guard setup at the Waldbaums near B110.
– Already a week later and it feels like everyone’s just at the very beginning of cleaning up. There’s still a long long way to go
Wednesday, November 7, 2012 –
– Everyone’s been trying to push the thought out of mind, but there is a nor’easter coming through. Storm surge up to 5 feet, high winds, and lots of rain. It’s no Sandy, but still a slap in the face from mother nature.  Some senior and health facilities along the shore are evacuating, again.  With the nightime temperatures nearing freezing these past few nights, some areas are going to see winter conditions from this one.
– South shore of LI in voluntary evacuation again.
– A little video my sister worked on about the gas shortages in the region (particularly on LI):
– A repost:  “Volunteers are still needed to prep hurricane survivors for the upcoming nor’easter today! Bring non perishable food to Our lady Of Solace in Coney Island for distribution today at 12pm!”
– A tremendously comprehensive crisis map from Google. Even a week after the storm, things are changing hour to hour, so always double check!:   http://google.org/crisismap/2012-sandy
– Rockaway residents and volunteers – word on the ground is that there is a mandatory evacuation order in effect.   I haven’t yet seen it officially, but given the weakened beaches and the forecast, it would make total sense.  Also, there are warnings to stay out of parks and watch for falling trees/branches.  We didn’t get a lot of rain during Sandy; this storm will soak more, making already weakened trees and structures vulnerable.  Be safe!
– Make a wish. It’s the first snowfall of the season out here.  Hurricane/nor’easter/superstorm Sandy, then a string of mockingly still, sunny, and chilly days, and now a classic winter nor’easter with snow.  Unpredictable weather is par for course in the Northeast US, but these 2 weeks have been totally bizarre.
– In the past hour, the snow has accumulated an inch or so and is still coming down strong in Queens.  Yesterday I saw Dept. of Sanitation workers dealing with impossible amounts of sand on the shore, today I see them salting the roads.  I’d venture to say that the DSNY has never had to deal with what’s happened these past 10 days. Keep up the good work!