Ghost town of Superstorm Sandy

April 29, 2013

Breezy Point, New York

By Shannon Stapleton

Driving into the city I was listening to NPR talking about it being the sixth anniversary of Hurricane Sandy.

At first I couldn’t believe it had been six months already, and then I thought more about it and it seemed like years ago. The last time I was in Breezy Point and the Rockaways not much had changed.

The area of Breezy Point was still littered with fire and storm damaged homes throughout the seaside community. Arriving today the specific area that was ravaged by fire was completely different. The remains of homes had been taken away and the land flattened and filled with sand.

Shells of houses’ foundations and patriotic flags were all to be seen. A few heavy construction vehicles were busy working and served as the only real sign of life around the area.

I made a photo of a man inside a home in silhouette that for me defined what I was seeing. A once lively seaside community that in the past would be preparing for another summer by the sea is now a bit of a ghost town with few residents back to welcome spring and cherish another summer at the beach.

From there I drove to the Rockaways because, like Breezy Point, I hadn’t been back in some time and wanted to see how the boardwalk was progressing.

This has always been a special place for me. My son learned to skateboard there and we were looking forward to surfing the waves this summer. While you can tell much work had been done to clean up the area, the boardwalk was still a ghost of what it once was.

Men were working hard behind construction fences, but it was evident that being ready for summer was going to be a tough chore and likely not possible. I saw two girls walking onto the beach despite a gloomy spring day which gave me hope that a summer in the Rockaways could be a possibility for those looking to escape the concrete jungle.

I hope so.

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