Below is an account from a family whose neighborhood was devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Jee Mee Kim, her husband Peter and their four-year-old son have called the Rockaway community home for several years now, and they’re unsure now when they’ll go back.
Greenpeace’s solar truck, the Rolling Sunlight, visited the Rockaway region to provide power in the devastated area. Stay updated on Hurricane Sandy and the Rolling Sunlight’s whereabouts.
What are the damages to your house and neighborhood?
The problem is we’re one of the lucky ones. We’ve done a lot better than others. There’s been lots of fire.Basically every car on the peninsula is waterlogged. You can’t drive out. Some people have managed to charge up generators. I think there’s a whole population that’s not doing well and I don’t even know if they’re being helped.
Most of the beach front houses are gone. It looked like a tsunami swept through the area.
We did better than most. But water rose half way up our garage door, and we had a foot of flooding on the first floor. There was five feet of water that streamed into the street that we lived on. There was a pretty dramatic rise in the water level within an hour. Basically miles of boardwalk just broke off and the boardwalks are lodged in the side street.
What about experiencing the storm as it was happening? What was your neighborhood seeing?
This was unprecedented. We evacuated Sunday night, but a lot of people stayed.
Everyone’s spirits were up and we were going to ride it out. Then the next day, the weather started to change. Things started to deteriorate that night, and then people started to get scared. There was a collective tension. There’s a bridge that crosses over the bay into the mainland and it’s completely covered with water. People who stayed said they were fearing for their lives. The water was rising so fast.
How is the recovery process going?
You know, it’s more than the flooding. It’s a collective pain. We’ve invested our time and energy in this community, and it’s gone. Whole neighborhoods had burnt down. That night all people could see was smoke and the glow of fire. It looked like a war zone. It’s complete devastation.
Parts of the peninsula are affluent, but a larger portion of residents are struggling economically. There’s a sizable population of people in assisted living homes and a huge population of low income residents living in public housing. There are whole families are here and they have nowhere to go.
Below is a collection of photos from the aftermath in the Rockaway area after Hurricane Sandy. Photo credit to Alex Karinsky.