Inwood native Robert Martin brought his video camera when he returned to his hometown after Hurricane Sandy to help document the damage that his neighbors and friends’ houses sustained for insurance purposes but once the camera started rolling, he knew he had to share the stories he captured.
Martin, a member of the Lawrence High School class of 1990, has worked in the film industry since he graduated from Emerson College in 1997 and is currently a cameraman and editor for the Manhattan-based Indemand LLC. “I love the storytelling aspect and getting the main truths out,” he said.
Seeing how the hurricane devastated his birthplace was difficult for Martin. “It was tough; I teared up a few times,” he said. “To see the death of my hometown was hard to swallow.”
One of the stories in the seven-minute Inwood Diaries documentary was that of lifelong Inwood resident Wayne Rizzo, a childhood friend of Martin’s. “I put everything in the attic and went to Baldwin,” he said about evacuating before the hurricane. “I had four feet of water so all the walls and floors have to be ripped up. I’ve been renovating that home for years and now have to tear it up again.”
Though Rizzo is currently staying at his home, he can’t see everything up and running normally until the summer. “People saw what happened on TV but they don’t realize the severity,” he said. “Hopefully people will see [the documentary] and say ‘wow.’”
Marcos Ortiz’s parents have lived on Walnut Road in Inwood for more than 40 years and Ortiz moved out five years ago. He and his brother, Noel, who operates a landscaping business out of Island Park, brought in equipment to help their parents clean out their childhood home. “A lot of memories are gone,” Ortiz said. “It’s heartbreaking. It’s sad to see a lot of them having nothing left and have to abandon everything they had; it’s surreal.”
Ortiz is grateful that Martin was able to document the stories of what is going on in Inwood as he feels the community was neglected after the storm. “It seems like other areas were more focused on than Inwood and there were a lot of people down there who were effected by the storm,” he said. “I hope it brings light to that.”
Martin hopes that the documentary tells the story of those who remain close to his heart. “I wanted to help my friends out,” he said. “Wayne’s been rebuilding his house for the past 10 years and the hurricane wiped him back to zero. I have a lot of roots to Inwood and I’m still proud to be from there.”
To view the video, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JxPLQnDsSKk.