One Year Later

October 29, 2013

concession

One year ago today we were evacuating, taping windows, securing garbage cans and thinking that it was a waste of time since it was all for naught during Hurricane Irene. One year ago tonight, we realized that we underestimated Superstorm Sandy.

Some of us were safely inland where we watched it play out on TV. Those who lived in low rise homes near water and chose not to evacuate will forever be haunted by the decisions to stay. Some of them didn’t make it out alive. People heard the wind that night and ran down to their basements for safety, only to drown. The lucky ones swam away from their burning houses. They lost their homes but they got away with their lives.

New York and the surrounding areas were left with power outages and gas shortages. The water receded but the work was just beginning. Droves of volunteers showed up to help but as time passed and winter set in, most volunteers forgot about Rockaway and Staten Island.

A year later, if you live inland, you may not realize that some of these places, although cleaned up, still have scars from that night. Some shops have yet to reopen and there are people that remain homeless.

Ellis Island just reopened their doors in time for the one year anniversary of the storm. The McDonalds in Rockaway finally opened after a year of plywood windows stating “Nothing left to take”. Beaches were ready enough for the summer visitors although work continues.  It’s business as usual in Gowanus and Red Hook but the next heavy rainstorm can bring flooding to those areas as they did even before Sandy.

We’ve come a long way but still have a way to go.  The glass is half full now. Quiet those thoughts that it can happen again and move forward! 100 year storm. 100 year storm. Just keep meditating on that.

How Far We’ve Come. HufPo

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Save the Mermaids!

May 8, 2013

mermaid

The annual Coney Island Mermaid Parade has morphed into a huge event since the first stroll down Surf Avenue in 1983. Now personally, having lived on Surf Avenue back in ’83, I thought the small freak and geek fest was awesome. These days, it seems like everyone in Brooklyn shows up and it’s too crowded for my grumpy middle aged ass.

But anyhoo, that doesn’t mean the show shouldn’t go on. The mermaids are in danger this year, my friends. Yeah, Sandy. After spending over $100k to restore their headquarters, they need to raise some clams to pay for cops and toilets for Coney’s unofficial start of summer.

Here, let the Kickstarter video speak for itself.

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Six Months.

April 30, 2013

48009_179546435534878_342624014_n

Six months ago parts of New York and New Jersey literally came crashing down around us. Hurricane Sandy hit us pretty hard, but we’re still here, aren’t we? Many are still homeless and undergoing major renovations, some businesses never reopened, but progress is being made.

Can’t speak of what’s going on in every hard-hit neighborhood because I’ve been trapped working on the Rockaway house everyday. I do know that people are working 24/7 to get the area ready for summer.

The A train still isn’t running out to Rockaway. Last I heard, it should be back in service by June.

Parts of the boardwalk are being rebuilt. There will be boardwalk “islands”.

Concession stands are under renovation and will return.

Sand is being replenished.

Rockaway Taco reopens by the end of this week.

Bungalow Bar has reopened after having $10k worth of materials looted during the renovation.

Thai Rock opens their deck in early May.

The first wine bar ever in Rockaway plans to open by Memorial Day.

Rockabus will be starting up on Memorial Day weekend.

And come hell or high water (no pun intended), my friggin house will be ready to show by mid-May.

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Salt Water Paint

April 17, 2013

green

Did you ever wonder what beach water might do to paint? Well, here it is. These cans were in the basement, slightly opened, during Hurricane Sandy. Throw in some freezing and thawing over winter and this is what you get. It’s art. I meant to do that!

Also learned yesterday that 12 year old paint crackle glaze doesn’t work. Luckily, I learned it on a test board, which is sooo not my style.

yellow

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Sliding Scale Restaurant

April 2, 2013

Shore Soup has been feeding hurricane Sandy victims in Rockaway since the perfect storm hit the area. Now they want to take it a step further and open up a pay-what-you-can restaurant. It will be mobile until they can get enough funds for brick and mortar. Good idea? Check out the video.

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Walk a Mile in Our Shoes

January 11, 2013

There’s a big Sandy relief walk going down this weekend all around the boroughs and on Long Island and New Jersey. “Walk a Mile in Our Shoes“. Join in! So much info that it was easiest to just copy the press release. Please click on neighborhood links for walk info.

From the press release:

ROCKAWAY BEACH, New York (January 09, 2013) – Coastal communities devastated by Hurricane Sandy will gather this Saturday, 12 January 2013, in a day of action to call upon elected officials and government agency leaders to “walk a mile in our shoes.” The goal of these community walks is to show solidarity and urge immediate passage of a comprehensive Hurricane Sandy relief package by Congress. Once any relief package is passed, Sandy-affected communities call for swift and effective follow-through by Federal, state and local government agencies to deliver desperately needed funds into hard-hit neighborhoods.

“It is a crime that Congress will have failed to act until 78 days after Superstorm Sandy in providing the desperately needed funding to jumpstart this recovery,” says Michael Sciaraffo, co-founder of the “Walk a Mile” community events and founder of The Sandy Claus Foundation. “People are suffering and lives are at stake. Funding for Katrina victims was passed within 10 days after the storm. Why are we any different?”

After Hurricane Sandy slammed into the east coast in October 2012, millions of affected Americans expected swift federal government action would be taken. Yet the 112th Congress came and went without passing a comprehensive relief package.

Originally Governors Cuomo, Christie and Malloy had asked for a combined $83 billion in aid, but only $60 billion was ever proposed as a relief package by Congress. The new 113th Congress passed an initial $9 billion to replenish the FEMA Flood Relief Insurance fund, but then adjourned without further action. Now, the House is reportedly poised to hold a vote for Sandy disaster relief on 15 January 2013 — 78 days after the initial disaster. And the Senate will only get the bill a week later. Meanwhile, the prospects for disaster relief passage is not certain; hurdles and challenges remain. Even if Congress passes the anticipated package of $51 billion in aid, it is far short of the original governors’ combined request, and it could take months, or a year or more to deliver funding on a local level.

Sandy-impacted communities are concerned they are being forgotten. Neighborhoods, towns, and whole counties along the New York and New Jersey coast still bear the scars of shattered homes and shuttered businesses. While much of the disaster’s impact is immediately obvious — with swaths of communities washed away or burned to the ground — other aspects of the disaster are not readily apparent. Gutted and mold-ridden homes conceal their damage on the inside. Emptied savings accounts, bankruptcies and unemployment cannot be seen from a casual street view.

“It is like these neighborhoods are suffering from a kidney punch. There’s a terrible amount of internal hemorrhaging. A relief bill would be life-saving to these communities,” says “Walk a Mile” co-founder Peter Corless. “Much needed Community Development Block Grants could stabilize local economies and save jobs and households. Shorelines are dangerously compromised in the face of future storms. Billions in promised aid could directly lead to smart rebuilding, sand replenishment and flood mitigation projects.”

In the long run, once the day of action passes, “Walk a Mile in Our Shoes” will lead to a program of “Walk a Mile Ambassadors” from each of the Sandy-affected areas. These volunteers have offered to guide future visits by leaders from government, volunteer agencies or businesses who wish to see for themselves the damage that Sandy wrought, and to understand how best to direct aid where it is needed most. Volunteer recruitment will occur at each community walk.

To learn more about the “Walk a Mile in Our Shoes” Sandy Recovery Community Events, see: https://www.facebook.com/SandyWalkAMile. Links for additional information for community-specific events is provided below.

Currently events are planned for eight communities throughout New York and New Jersey. All except Coney Island will be held Saturday 12 January 2013, starting at 9 am. The Coney Island event will be held on Sunday 13 January at 1:30 pm. Event organizers are interested in hearing from other Sandy-affected communities to coordinate similar efforts in the future.

NEW YORK CITY

NASSAU COUNTY

NEW JERSEY

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Somewhat Habitable

November 28, 2012

sink

After a slight hurricane setback on the Rockin’ Rockaway Rehab house, things are back on track. As you know, we were without heat and electric for a solid three weeks but it’s all good now.

The basement was gutted and cleaned up immediately. It took LIPA (LI Power Authority) ages to get people back to normal. There were rumors that nobody’s electric would be turned on until each and every home was inspected. Nah, they couldn’t do that. Folks needed to get a licensed electrician to certify the panel or it had to be okayed by LIPA for that individual home to get powered up. I was lucky enough to be around the day LIPA came by to inspect. They okayed me even though, between you and I, I knew that the panel had to be changed, which it was before I turned my power on.

I thought that once I had lights and outlets working I could get back to the renovation, but I wasn’t too happy working there in the cold. I hired the boiler replacement plumbers the same way I hire any contractor….went with the only one who showed up. Kew Forest Plumbing came, supplied an estimate and started work the day after I agreed to the price. Again, luck was on my side that I have a steam system. Hot water boilers are on back order, so there are plenty of folks still waiting for heat. Got me a new water heater too. Too bad we haven’t installed a shower yet.

Have I ever mentioned that we’ve had the gas turned off since August? Every time we turned it on, we discovered a new leak. It was at leak number five and at this point I’m totally freaked out by those old pipes. While the basement is open and while the plumbers are around, I’m having them run all new gas lines. Take that, Sandy. I meant to do it anyway!

After all this time, we finally set up a temporary sink on the first floor! There is a lone toilet sitting in a demoed bathroom on the second floor. We were running down to the basement sink to wash our hands. Or not. A sink in the living area? Only 1 flight from the toilet? How luxurious. And there’s warm water. What a concept. Living the good life!

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Need a Job?

November 26, 2012

As devastating as Sandy was, dare I say that some good has come of it? A better sense of community is the obvious light at the end of the tunnel. Our local economy is going to thrive for awhile, despite it being a drain on the government. Think of all the cleaning supplies, building materials, cars and contractor jobs being sold.

Here’s another glass-is-half-full outcome. Jobs. Apart from the local Home Depots and such needing extra help (I’m just assuming. Don’t quote me on that.) the government is hiring. The US Department of Labor awarded the NYS Department of Labor grant funds to hire workers to assist in the cleanup of Hurricane Sandy. What does this mean for you? Well, you can register here. You must be unemployed prior to or as a direct result of Hurricane Sandy and the job is only temporary. It’s not going to get you rich but it’s probably going to be one of the more fulfilling experiences of your life.

FEMA has some interesting opportunities as well, ranging from Architect to Photographer. Check out the local FEMA jobs here.

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Appliances at Cost

November 16, 2012

Yay, Drimmer’s! One of my favorite go-to appliance stores is offering Sandy victims washers and dryers at cost. “Drimmer’s refuses to profit from your catastrophe.” Well, good for them. This should set an example for other appliance shops, building material stores and contractors. Step up, people!!

If you know of any companies offering discounts or volunteer work due to the hurricane, please let us know!

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Progress

November 14, 2012

two weeks later

Phyllis here. Thanks to Deb for posting all that amazing info on where to give and receive help. If you’re able bodied and have some free time on your hands, you better be doing your part! People are still without power and food.

It’s been two weeks since Ms. Sandy came tearing through. If you haven’t been visiting or living in the A Zones, it looks like everything is back to normal. Subways are mostly running. Even the gas lines seem to be fine now. Yippee!

Not so back to normal in the hardest hit areas. I can only personally report on Rockaway since that’s where I’ve been working. The good news is that it doesn’t look like the war zone it did the days after the storm. The piles of personal lives on the street have gone down. The sidewalks and roads are less cluttered with sand and trash. There are street and traffic lights working in many areas and some residences even got their power back.

But not too many. LIPA has been as awful as one can imagine. Pretty much non-existent. They finally started coming around this week and I’m happy to report that they actually came into my house to check out my electric panel. I’m ok for power if/when they ever turn it on!

The FEMA checks are rolling in. Not for me because I don’t qualify, but the neighbors are pretty happy with FEMA. Insurance agencies, well, I don’t see anyone singing their praises. Volunteers have been coming around offering food, clothing and cleaning supplies as well as helping hands.

Still, people are living in cold, dark houses. Personally, I couldn’t do it. I would get the fek out of there. But good for them. Some have generators. They barbeque outside and share beers. They all help each other. It’s what a community SHOULD be. It’s almost….pleasant. Yes, I understand I wouldn’t feel it’s so pleasant if I had to spend the night.

Looking forward, with the clean up nearly finished and power about to be restored any day now, methinks that’s when the real rebuilding gets going. Anyone can volunteer to clean but it takes skilled workers to rebuild a house and not everyone can afford that. There will be contractor rip offs and crappy work going on big time.

If you are a contractor or material supplier, I know, I know, you stand to make a killing. But please do your part for society and offer discounts or volunteer time to communities in need. If anyone wants to step up by emailing me or posting in comments, consider the free advertising you’ll get here as payback for your good deed.

Also, peeps in need, don’t forget NYC’s Rapid Response set up through FEMA. You will need a FEMA ID to register.

On the “Me” front, my own Rockaway basement is gutted and cleaned. Will need boiler, water heater, washer, dryer, walls and some kitchen cabinets, tools, yada, yada. No FEMA, no flood insurance. Still feeling like a lucky punk. Found some black mold in the basement walls that was not Sandy related so it’s probably a good thing the basement was gutted. I’m just waiting for power so I can get back to work on the house.

I’ve made the decision to rent it out instead of sell it this year, because really….who the hell is gonna buy a house in Rockaway now?

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Emergency Contractor Tips

November 9, 2012

In the weeks since Hurricane Sandy pummeled the East Coast, American Custom Contractors in Northern Virginia and Maryland has been helping homeowners in the Washington D.C. Metro with roof repairs and other storm damage repairs. They stopped by Reclaimed Home to offer tips on what to do after hurricane damage and how to avoid shady contractors.

When Hurricane Sandy barreled through the Mid-Atlantic this week, she left a trail of damage from North Carolina to New England. For homeowners whose homes were damaged by Hurricane Sandy, the long road to recovery is just beginning.

The biggest source of home damage during a hurricane is often roof failure. First, there’s the cost of a roof repair or roof replacement. Falling trees, branches, and debris can punch a hole in a roof. Uplift from hurricane wind can rip the roof from its frame. Wind can also tear shingles from the roof.

After a roof fails, subsequent wind and water damage to the home’s interior – as well as damage to personal property inside the home – can result in tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage.

What to Do If Hurricane Sandy Damaged Your Home

Let’s face it: Repairing storm damage to your home is no picnic. From getting emergency shelter and choosing a repair contractor to dealing with the insurance company and paying the bills, an emergency home repair can be stressful.

If your home has been damaged by Hurricane Sandy, your first call may be to a contractor who will provide emergency repairs so you have adequate shelter. A good contractor will be with you at every step in the home repair.

Here are steps your contractor should take along the way:

• Complete emergency services such as roof tarping, installing a temporary roof, or emergency board-up of your damaged roof.
• Conduct a thorough damage assessment
• Assist you with submitting a claim to your insurance company.
• Provide a full written report detailing the extent of the damage to your home and property and the emergency services provided.
• Work with the insurance claims adjuster assigned to your case to settle the claim.
• Undertake the restoration process to repair or reconstruct significant damages to your home.

Questions to Ask When Choosing a Storm Damage Repair Contractor

Although hurricane damage to your home can be distressing, hiring the wrong contractor because you’re in a hurry or in a state of distress will only hurt you down the road. Take time to choose a reputable contractor who will repair your home correctly, promptly, and without taking advantage of you.

Here are questions you should ask when choosing a contractor:

1. What is the full name and address of the company?
Especially after a hurricane or large storm, fly-by-night contractors will pop up to offer services. Be very wary of a contractor who cannot provide a name and address for the company. Verify that the name and address provided are valid.

2. How much insurance does the company carry?
Avoid any contractor that cannot provide you with Insurance Certificates for Liability and Worker’s Compensation. Call the contractor’s insurance companies to verify coverage. Your homeowner’s policy probably will not cover injuries to the contractor or their employees.

3. Is the company a licensed contractor?
Maryland, Virginia and Washington DC laws require contractors to be licensed in order to perform home improvements. New York, New Jersey and other Mid-Atlantic states have their own contractor license laws. Ask for license numbers and check with home improvement licensing agencies to confirm the license hasn’t been suspended, revoked, or expired.

4. How long has the contractor been in business?
Use extreme caution when considering a contractor who has only been in business for less than five years. A more experienced contractor who has demonstrated a commitment to the profession will be better equipped to repair and restore your home than a contractor with less experience.

5. Does the company offer a workmanship warranty?
Your contractor should offer a reasonable warranty to the quality of their workmanship. Don’t assume a longer warranty is a better warranty. A warranty is only as good as what it covers. A lifetime warranty may be too good to be true, and getting a contractor to honor that warranty may be extremely difficult.

Check out these pictures of Hurricane Sandy damage in Maryland and Virginia on the American Custom Contractors blog.

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