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Long Beach locals remember Hurricane Sandy through art

Long Beach resident Kyle McCarthy's documentary began filming in 2011 as a hypothetical film about a hurricane's impact on the community that unexpectedly turned into a story about a real one — Hurricane Sandy.
Kyle McCarthy/NoBudge YouTube

The Long Beach Arts Council held a special event on Oct. 24 at the Long Beach Public Library to observe the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, which gave local artists and storm victims an opportunity to share their work — including the premiere of a documentary by a local filmmaker about the impact Sandy had on the community.

Nearly 100 people packed the library’s auditorium to watch Long Beach resident Kyle Richard McCarthy’s short film “We Like it Here,” a documentary that illustrates the struggle that McCarthy and the community went through after Sandy destroyed large parts of the community. McCarthy said that the idea for the film began just a month before Tropical Storm Irene hit in 2011 and posed the question, “If Long Beach was swept away by a hurricane, what would you want to be remembered about it?”

That question would catapult McCarthy on an eight-year journey to finish the documentary while recovering from Sandy and raising a family.

Mccarthy said it took him years to complete the film because he felt he wasn’t ready as a filmmaker to tell such an important story. McCarthy would go on to create several acclaimed and award-winning short films, including, “The Love,” which won the Best Short Comedy at the Long Beach International Film Festival.

He added that when he was ready to finish his latest documentary about Sandy, he knew he wanted to make it as relatable as possible for the audience.

“Just in the last year or so I realized how to tell the story and it had to be as personal as possible,” McCarthy said. “It had to be deeply personal in order to connect with people.”

After the screening, the audience cheered the film and some spoke about how it showcased Long Beach’s strength.

“I thought the movie was amazing — very emotional,” said Long Beach resident Margaret Wilson, an LBNY Arts Council board member. “It was a very beautiful interpretation of how we’ve overcome and are still overcoming.”

The event was a part of the council’s Art Heals — A Celebration of the Arts: Triumph Over Adversity Through Music, Literature & Film, which also has art displayed in the lobby of City Hall as part of the series. The Art Heals concept aims to recognize the strength and sense of community that helped the city overcome Sandy and gave the community the ability to rebuild.

Other performers at the event included City Council President Anissa Moore, author and journalist Donna Gaines, Hofstra University professor Mary Anne Trasciatti, and the musical group Benoir & Michael Carman, who shared their Sandy stories through poems, essays and music.

Click here for a link to the film.