Rockaway residents take to City Hall, demand say in Sandy rebuilding

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THE COURIER/Photos by Terence M. Cullen
THE COURIER/Photos by Terence M. Cullen

Rockaways residents want to be able to sign off on rebuilding plans.

By day 143, Rockaway residents had had enough.

Scores traveled to the steps of City Hall on Saturday, March 23 to call on Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the city to help residents rebuild after Sandy.

Shoulder to shoulder with elected officials and candidates for mayor and borough president, resident after resident told personal stories of their prolonged recovery and demanded a say in how the peninsula is rebuilt.

“Now, as community residents of the Rockaway peninsula and Broad Channel, we demand to always have our voices heard on what goes on with all future projects, and most importantly, to be part of the process when implementing them to protect our community from another Sandy, or any type of possible future disasters,” said Danny Ruscillo, president of the 100th Precinct Community Council. Ruscillo held a sign that became one of the chants during the hour-long press conference: “United we stand. Divided we drown.”

Senator Charles Schumer recently secured money to rebuild New York beaches, and take measures to prevent flooding.


The Army Corps of Engineers, which has been conducting surveys on protecting the beach-front community for more than a decade, recently said the study would take at least another year-and-a-half.

But residents like Margaret Wagner think that’s too long. Wagner said she took the trip to lower Manhattan while her husband was at home putting up sheetrock in their Broad Channel home.

“We want the studies to end tomorrow,” said Wagner. “Give us a plan today. Not a year-and-a-half from now.”
John Cori and Eddie Pastore, who run Friends of Rockaway Beach and organized the City Hall rally, have long campaigned to build better beach protection.

This was not the first time Rockaway residents have criticized Bloomberg and his administration for what they believed was a delayed reaction to the storm. On a visit to Breezy Point in November, Bloomberg was lambasted by a resident; spectators at the St. Patrick’s Day parade on March 2 booed him when he marched.

Councilmember Eric Ulrich and State Senator Joseph Addabbo both said it was crucial that those who live there have the final say in how the communities are rebuilt.

“These residents have to live with what’s left behind,” Addabbo said. “Let’s get to work for these people.”

“We heard about the federal money that Senator Schumer was able to secure and we’re very grateful for that,” Ulrich said. “But the community needs to be kept in the loop as to how that money is going to be spent.”




Councilmember Eric Ulrich

  • ALex

    What exactly do they want? A study is taking too long? Isn’t it better to have a comprehensive study to actually find out what is the most beneficial response for the community? Or is it that they’re upset that money is going to buy up homes to return them to their natural state?

    • Janie Simmons

      Well Alex, The study was commissioned YEARS ago. It was never fully funded. They certainly should have come up with something they can do by now while they figure out what more they can do in the time that is left. I am a researcher. This is not too much to ask … especially when another storm could deliver the same punch and we are even less able to deal with it now given the damage both Irene and Sandy have done. Also, when it is comes to our neighborhoods and our homes, there is no “they” … only “us.”

    • Robert Romas

      In 1960 the last time the Rockaways sustained significant damage from Hurricane Donna, City / State / Gov. Agencies did a study and came up with a plan of both long term and short term protection for the Rockaways peninsula. Part of that plan was pumping in sand to a height of 10 feet and width of 200 feet, a series of dunes, jetties (groins), and flood gates erected by the Marine Parkway Bridge, was part of the long term plan that after being dragged out thru the bureaucracy of out governmental officials never took place. All funding that was allocated for this plan was reallocated elsewhere leaving a population of well over 130,000 people unprotected. What we want Alex is to be taken off this merry-go-round stop the studies and implement so sound plan of protection for our homes and family’s.

  • Danny Ruscillo

    Terence I just wanted to say thanks………..

  • Joanne Smith

    Alex, the study started when my daughter was in fourth grade. She’s not only graduated college, she’s obtained a masters degree as well. After two hurricanes in two years, it should be obvious that our shoreline needs protection. This should have been addressed after Sandy, but nothing. That’s what we want, our shoreline and our property protected.

  • dennis oconnor

    yes we (the residents) want a say in how are neighborhood will be rebuilt . and i dont believe we are going away anytime soon ….. so lets cut all the red tape … expedite the study as they did with fire island …. who already has there plan and specs , i guess they cut all there red tape … got there permits from the d.e.c. got there federal contract pushed through quickly / expedite !!!!!!! being the key word …… and the dredging for fire island is for the fishing boats to get through the channel … when here in rockaway we only have homes and familys in danger !!!! as usual …… rockaway getting the short end of the stick again !!!!!…. its enough to make you sick .

  • http://FriendsofRockawayBeach john cori

    ALex , you asked a lot of questions in your comment!
    Perhaps if you read through the article your question would be answered! ” What exactly do they want”
    Maybe read the second paragraph!
    If you or anyone would like a walking tour of The Rock, feel free to contact me at
    Next time have some courage and include your last name.

  • margaret wagner

    I think all my neighbors answered your question Alex. I would like to add that if the Army Corp of Engineers can not expedite these studies at a rate that is affordable to the taxpayers then maybe our government needs to bid these jobs out to a comapny that can get the job done in days not years!!! The Army Corp failed to protect the people of NY and in the Flood Control Act our Congress gave them the authority to protect the American People they are failing. No one is upset about the home buy out because we havn’t heard the city or state plan yet. Some people may decide its good for them and others may feel its not such a good idea. Being annoyed at the Army Corp studies has nothing to do with the home buy outs.

  • James Smallman

    We are not going anywhere we love broad channel please get this done stop the nonsense