Families search for loved ones in the wake of Sandy


| editorial@queenscourier.com |

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan
THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Michael Feuer of Broad Channel scoured a broken boardwalk in search of his father.

BY MELISSA CHAN AND TERENCE M. CULLEN
editorial@queenscourier.com

A Broad Channel man battled a broken boardwalk last week in search of his 65-year-old father, who refused to abandon his Rockaway beachfront home.

“I haven’t heard from him or seen him in three days,” said Michael Feuer, 43. “Everybody’s cell phones are dead.”

Feuer said he last spoke to his father, Bernie, before Sandy hit on Monday, October 29. He said he tried to persuade his dad, who lived by himself, to evacuate his seven-floor apartment complex between Beach 116th and Beach 118th Streets — but to no avail.

“I told him we we’re going to the Ramada in Jamaica. I asked him to come with us. He said, ‘No, I’m fine,’” Feuer said. “But the boardwalk is right at his front door.”

Feuer believes his father is safe, despite the sights of devastation around him, after hearing accounts from people who lived in the same building with him.

“People have seen him,” he said. “I know he’s alive. That’s all that matters. My whole house is gone. Everything in my house is toast. Everything I own is now in the garbage. But everybody’s alive. That’s all that matters.”

For Mary Schiff, 30, hours of uncertainty in the quest to find her own father resulted in relief.

Schiff, a Brooklyn resident who had spent 25 years living in Rockaway Beach, said her father, Michael, lived on the seventh floor of an apartment building on the beach and chose to stay put during the storm.

Communication was severed between the two for several hours, said Schiff, who later learned firefighters rescued the 62-year-old man between 6 and 7 p.m. on Tuesday, October 30.

The pair reunited at a Park Slope shelter on Wednesday, October 31.

Schiff returned to Rockaway Beach last week in the aftermath of the storm to survey the damage caused to her childhood hometown.

Near the Flight 587 Memorial at the southern end of Beach 116th Street, a sand wall no less than eight feet tall had been constructed in the days leading up to the storm. After the storm, it appeared as if the mounds of sand had been flipped over the granite memorial and into the street.

Throughout the roads, at both sides of the strip, debris littered fences, and some basements and lobbies of beachfront apartment buildings were filled with up to five feet of sand, according to men taking wheel barrels of it out. Some water lines in hallways were chest high.

“I’m rather floored,” Schiff said.