Hurricane Sandy – The Destruction of Rockaway

Bear with me, it’s the only way I can really describe what I just saw.

On Sept 11, the first people I spoke to on my very long walk home were these punk rock kids behind a building on the willyburg waterfront. We were all looking down river at the smoke and one of them said ‘ I wonder what it’s like down there right now’. I looked over at them and said ‘it’s a war zone down there’. Everyone stayed quiet and I eventually kept walking north.

After spending most of the last 24 hours photographing ‘Zone A’ neighborhoods in NYC, I can tell you the same thing: It’s a war zone out there. Even nice areas on high ground have trees down pretty much everywhere – though none of it compares even remotely to what went down in South Queens.

The first few shots here are night photos from Long Island City – a ‘Zone A’ neighborhood prone to flooding. It’s amazing how over the last 20 years they’ve filled the waterfront with high priced apartment towers, and how quickly the streets surrounding them filled with storm surge water. After we went over to Roosevelt Island. Seeing Manhattan blacked out south of the UN was a little surreal. The water was covering the south end of roosy. It was as if we were at the edge of the earth with no one else around, looking into the abyss. None of those night shots would have happened if my man Dimitri didn’t egg me on into going.

The daylight shots start around Astoria and then LIC. I barely slept and headed out once the sun was up. Eventually I picked up my man Mr. Smith and we headed towards Rockaway. Roads were clear and all seemed normal until we popped off the belt parkway at Cross Bay Blvd. Right at the exit FDNY had set up a command post, with a fuel tanker refueling fire trucks cycling north and racing back south.

When we got to Broad Channel the devastation was clear. Everything got hit with flood waters. The bridge to Rockaway was initially blocked by cops turning away anyone who probably didn’t have a drivers license listing their address as being in Rockaway. After shooting Broad Channel I swung back around to the bridge. Not content, I wanted another crack at it. Sure enough the cops had momentarily gone, and we made our way in.

There’s no words beyond the bridge to Rockaway. See the photos below and write your own…

One Comment

  1. nailhed
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 9:14 pm | #

    god damn, man…rough. im looking into ways i can maybe get temp work out there to help with cleanup, since im basically out of work again.

    yeah im just waiting for the media comparisons to Detroit to start, pfft. though, 100 blocks burning because the FD cant respond…or 1 engine company responding to scenes that would normally be attended by 4 or more trucks…thats a detroit thing, yes. hell, we even have grotesquely out-of-order infrastructure, and discarded boats strewn all over our streets (and even front lawns on occasion).

    but not because of a natural disaster…

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