I spent a second weekend in the Rockaways two weeks ago. I took Metro North, then a subway, then a bus, then walked several blocks to get to the Occupy Sandy food distribution center. This time I wasn't cooking, but rather handing out hot food that volunteers delivered from other parts of New York. (One delivery consisted of eight big aluminum trays of vegetarian lasagne, each with a little note attached saying, "From Integral Yoga, with love."
I met Joe and Jennie Longo (pictured above), who live a block from the beach and also own several bungalows they rent out for vacations. All were severely damaged by Sandy. Although they still had no heat or electricity, they were helping to serve food to other neighbors and volunteers. Joe said Occupy Sandy volunteers had helped him muck out his house and take down soaked wallboard, and he wanted to give back. At night they either stayed in their cold, dark house or went to his mother's in another part of Queens, who was keeping their four-month-old daughter for the time being. Their story of riding out the storm and the rising water with the baby on Joe's (or Jennie's) head was truly hair-raising. They seemed to be running on the same kind of adrenaline as the folks I met the first time. You can listen to a WIN story I did here.
Joe said he'd never thought much about climate change before Sandy brought him the news, but now he knows residents of the Rockaways will have to make major changes in rebuilding their homes and businesses if they hope to survive future storms. Soon I'll be looking into that issue in depth.
I'm heading back again this weekend, to do more reporting and volunteering. Stay tuned.