October 31, 2013 | 1875 views
A year of recovery
Long Beach marks anniversary of Hurricane Sandy
For Harmon Street resident Josie Matier, it sometimes feels like only yesterday that a 9-foot storm surge washed over the city, the disastrous result of Hurricane Sandy.
At around 6:30 p.m. last Oct. 29, Matier saw water trickling back and forth in front of her house. “And then I went in my backyard, and the water was coming up to the glass,” she recalled. “All of a sudden it was like a tsunami. It just came in.” Like many residents, she and her husband took refuge in their small attic, where they stayed until a co-worker came to check on them the next day.
Matier was among approximately 1,000 residents, government officials and first responders who gathered at Kennedy Plaza last Saturday to mark the first anniversary of the storm. The often emotional two-hour ceremony included the premiere of “Surge: A City Recovers,” a 15-minute film by local filmmakers that documented stories of survival and recovery and offered a retrospective on the previous year’s restoration efforts.
“When you were done watching that movie, it brought you to tears,” said Matier, who returned to her home in April. “What stood out was when they showed the tremendous amount of water coming in, when the surge came. We knew that it came, we knew what happened in our homes, but the magnitude of it, and to actually see the water coming, in was huge.”
“The truth is, it’s been a hard year, and it feels to many of us as if it’s been one long day,” City Manager Jack Schnirman told the crowd, noting how the ocean met the bay “right here in Kennedy Plaza.”
Schnirman, who was joined by Sen. Charles Schumer, County Executive Ed Mangano, State Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg, County Legislator Denise Ford and members of the City Council — including Fran Adelson and John McLaughlin, both of whose homes were destroyed — recalled the city’s coordinated response to the storm. “Even as the flood waters raged,” he said, “we hunkered down in flooded, battered City Hall and did what we had to do.”
Schnirman lauded the “heroic” efforts by countless volunteers and the city’s Department of Public Works, police and fire departments, saying that a raging fire in the Canals had the potential to cause damage on the scale of the conflagration in Breezy Point, Queens.