Tag Archives: superstorm sandy

Jamaica Bay movie is nearing completion


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo via  Jamaica Bay Lives Flickr

Jamaica Bay is on the verge of getting its own little taste of stardom as a new documentary about the body of water and its surrounding habitats is officially in post-production.

The documentary film titled “Jamaica Bay” was started about three years ago. It will cover the bay’s history, environmental issues and local residents’ way of life, according to Dan Hendrick, producer of the film.

“The overarching theme of the film is that right now, Jamaica Bay is a good national park but it has the potential to be great one,” Hendrick said. “We hope that this film will inspire people.”

Hendrick and his team started his work on the film in August 2011. He said he wants to highlight how the bay has made such a remarkable comeback from where it was 30 years ago. They have over 100 hours of film of the bay including shots from before, during and after it was devastated by Superstorm Sandy.

“People care about the bay more than ever,” Hendrick said. “The pollution has subsided from where it was 30 years ago but there is still a lot of work to do.”
The team hopes to get the documentary out to both local TV channels and movie theaters by spring of 2015.

Due to limits on public television, the television cut will be less than an hour long, but the producers hope for the full film to run up to 90 minutes.

To learn more about the film check out jamaicabaylives.com.

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Anthony Weiner opening up restaurant in Rockaways


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Anthony Weiner is helping to restore the Rockaways, but not as a politician.

Instead, he’s launching Rockaway Restoration Kitchen, a nonprofit agency that aims to “operate a healthy, sustainable restaurant in a hard luck community to provide training, on-the-job apprenticeships and placement in the culinary and food service sector for unemployed New Yorkers,” according to its page on Idealist.org.

Hurricane Sandy damaged much of the peninsula, and the restaurant, which was first reported to open by the Rockaway Times, is looking to help out the still-suffering residents there.

“Our goal is to provide a comfortable neighborhood restaurant with healthy, locally sourced food that satisfies the hunger of Rockaway residents, attracts visitors and serves up dignity and self-sufficiency by serving as a hands on training ground to provide skills, real experience and job placement in the culinary industry,”  the restaurant says on its website.

Weiner, who virtually ended his political career in a sexting scandal back in 2011 and then mounted a failed mayoral campaign that was marred by another sexting discretion, represented the Rockaways for more than a decade.

He told the Daily News this project is something that the area needs.

“Large swaths of the peninsula are lacking in quality, sustainable, nutritious food,” he said. “It’s also sadly true that many residents need help developing skills to lift them out of unemployment.”

The Kitchen is currently looking to fill an executive director position. This person will be in charge of the management and operation of all aspects of the social enterprise as well as the nonprofit corporation, multiple food-service based lines of business and the youth training program, according to the listing.

There is no set date for the kitchen’s debut.

 

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Dozens of Rockaway beaches closed for swimming due to lack of lifeguards, Sandy damages


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Salvatore Licata

SALVATORE LICATA

Just because a beach is open doesn’t mean people are allowed to swim there.

As of Thursday, only 29 of the more than 100 beaches in the Rockaways are open to swimming because of damage caused by Superstorm Sandy coupled with a dearth of lifeguards, the Parks Department said.

Many of the others have “normal access,” which, according to the Parks Department, means people are allowed to walk in the sand.

“Swimming is only permitted where there are lifeguards, which is never the entire seven mile beach,” said Zachary Feder, a Parks Department spokesman. “But walking is permitted along the entire length.”

Superstorm Sandy caused major damage to the beaches along Rockaway, which now has the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers working to repair many of them. They are using large pipes to pump sand from the ocean floor on to certain beaches which makes those specific locations closed to swimming.

“More beaches will open as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completes their sand replenishment and grading work,” Feder said. “We cannot allow swimming where the Corps is working. As the Corps finishes a section, that area will reopen for swimming.”

Feder also said another reason why many beaches are still closed to swimming is because the number of lifeguards has not reached its full potential for the year yet. He said lifeguard staffing does not reach its peak until July 4, which is when the volume of beachgoers is at its highest and the lifeguards, many of whom are students, are able to work for the summer.

But locals were upset that swimming was off-limits for most of the shoreline.

“Beaches being closed to swimming not only impacts our recreational life but it cripples the businesses that thrive on people going to beaches,” said Phillip McManus, a Rockaway resident and avid beachgoer, “We need a government that will listen to the people and need our beaches open for swimming now.”

Here is a list of the Rockaway beaches that are open to swimming as of June 19, as stated on the Parks Department website:

Beaches 9, 13, 15, 17, 18
Beaches  29-30
Beaches 115-119
Beaches 120-129
Beaches 131-137

 

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Build It Back finally building momentum


| editorial@queenscourier.com

SALVATORE LICATA

More than a year after Superstorm Sandy ripped through Queens, the efforts to repair damaged homes and businesses are finally starting to pick up speed, officials said Friday.

There has been a marked increase in every category of the relief process, including the issuance of 227 reimbursement checks totaling $3.4 million, according to a new report from the mayor’s office. There were no checks issued during the last administration, the report says.

The first 42 construction starts of the relief effort occurred this year as well, officials said.

“Five hundred construction starts by labor day and 500 reimbursement checks in the hands of the people, who have been waiting for a long, long time. That will show people that every level of government is working for them. So things are working- and every one of us is going to push each other to keep going further,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a Build It Back event last month.

Homeowners are still skeptical of the Build It Back process.

“The old commissioner let it get out of hand,” Howard Beach resident Anthony DeRisl said.  DeRisl suffered $77,000 in damages from Sandy and said he has been to numerous Build It Back events but has yet to see any compensation.

“We want to know where all the money is,” DeRisl said. “We’ve had the same experience everywhere we go.”

With the third round of Sandy relief funds coming to the city, totaling about $639 million, “Everyone in Build It Back program will get their assistance,” said mayoral spokeswoman Amy Spitalnick.

“Until every home is rebuilt and all the money is allocated,” Spitalnick said, “our job isn’t done.”

 

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Government officials to host Build It Back reps


| editorial@queenscourier.com

SALVATORE LICATA

The long, dragged-out process of filling out applications and following up with Build It Back may finally get a little easier.

In an effort to better accommodate residents who were affected by Superstorm Sandy, Assemblyman Philip Goldfeder and state Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. will host Build It Back representatives in their local offices, so residents can meet directly with Build It Back officials and learn exactly what they have to do to finalize their applications for the government-subsidized grant.

“There is a lot of confusion surrounding the Build It Back program,” Goldfeder said.

The representatives will file paperwork, investigate individual cases and provide a case manager for each resident. Making an appointment is strongly encouraged but walk-ins are welcomed.

“I am thankful Build it Back has people in the Rockaways, but residents off of the Peninsula were affected as well, and they should be able to get help in their own neighborhood,” Addabbo said.

At Addabbo’s office, located at 159-53 102nd St., representatives will hold meetings every Thursday beginning June 5, from 1 to 4 p.m. Appointments can made by calling 718-738-1111.

At Goldfeder’s offices, located at 2-14 Beach 96th St. and 108-14 Cross Bay Blvd., representatives will alternate between offices beginning with the Rockaway office on Thursday, June 5, from 1 to 4 p.m. Appointments can be made by calling 718-945-9550.

 

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Repairs begin on Hamilton Beach boardwalk after Sandy damage


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Roger Gendron

The city is finally repairing the boardwalk connecting Hamilton Beach and Howard Beach after Superstorm Sandy made it dangerous to use.

“No one from the city wanted to step up and take responsibility,” said Roger Gendron, the president of the Hamilton Beach Civic Association. “But [Councilman Eric Ulrich’s office] kept going and going to get this done.”

While Ulrich’s office pushed for the repairs, which began on May 15, the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) is ultimately responsible for doing the work since it owns the property, according to the councilman. But the department wasn’t quick to admit ownership and instead they told the community that the MTA owned the land. The two debated ownership, causing a delay in repairs.

“This is an issue we’ve been working on for more than a year,” Ulrich said. “We kept going back and forth with DCAS. We were relentless. The city has to accept responsibility for its property and we’re here to make sure that happens.”

When the flooding hit the area, Gendron explained, the boardwalk became uprooted, and now, the once-straight boardwalk curves and drops in many spots. The boardwalk also sustained damages to the individual planks. Construction workers were observed by Gendron on Tuesday, May 20, working on the site.

Hamilton Beach is a small sliver of Howard Beach and is separated from the rest of the neighborhood by canals and waterways. In an area with less than a handful of ways in and out, the boardwalk is used as a main walkway for people going to and from the Howard Beach A train station.

“Anytime we lose any way out of Hamilton Beach, it hurts,” Gendron said.

Gendron and Ulrich both said that this repair is just one among many things that needs to be fixed.

“It’s just one part of the community that needed repairs and we aim to fix them all,” Ulrich said.

DCAS did not respond to comment requests before press time, and no completion date has been set by the department. When the project is complete, according to Gendron, the department will replace the wooden planks with a concrete walkway and new railings.

 

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Arverne library to reopen following Sandy damage


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy the Queens Library

Follow me @liamlaguerre

The Arverne branch of the Queens Library is opening a new chapter.

The library will celebrate its reopening on Friday after a $1.36 million renovation following extensive damage from Superstorm Sandy nearly two years ago.

Four feet of water surged into the library during Sandy, ruining books, computers, electrical wiring and furniture.

The rebuilding money was funded by FEMA, the library’s insurance and grants, including one from the Turkish Cultural Center Queens. The library initially reopened for public service on March 18.

The reopening ceremony will feature many Queens dignitaries and a live DJ.

 

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Newly opened Rockaway YMCA to boost local economy


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos by Raymond Liang for the YMCA

The YMCA has a new home by the sea.

The YMCA of Greater New York celebrated the opening of its new branch, Rockaway YMCA at Arverne by the Sea, on March 14 during a ribbon cutting with local elected officials and community leaders. The ceremony was originally scheduled a month before but postponed due to the weather.

The 44,000-square-foot facility, developed by Benjamin-Beechwood LLC, faced some construction delays after Superstorm Sandy swept through the city. However, the 207 Beach 73rd St. location opened its doors to the general public on Feb. 18 and had a record of 1,100 new members in its first week of operation.

“For the first time in our organization’s 161 year history, the YMCA has a permanent, brick-and-mortar branch in the Rockaways,” said Jack Lund, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater New York. “This new Y is not only bringing vital programs and services to the people of the Rockaways, but it is creating jobs and helping to sustain economic development in the area.”

The site now includes the largest aquatic center of any of the 24 YMCA locations in New York City which features a lap pool, a family-friendly recreational pool with a water slide and much more.

The overall Rockaways location also includes a full-court gymnasium, fitness center, outdoor recreational field, community multi-purpose space for youth and family programs, and other amenities. Some of the programs that will be available at the new location include after-school and college readiness, youth employment and job training, child care and adult learning.

“The new Rockaway YMCA at Arverne by the Sea is a bright and shining example of our neighborhood’s ongoing revitalization and recovery from super storm Sandy,” Councilmember Donovan Richards Jr. said. “This facility will provide jobs for local Rockaways residents and stand to serve as our neighborhood’s heart –providing a safe, community center dedicated to improving the quality of life for all our families.”

After Superstorm Sandy hit the Rockaways, the YMCA of Greater New York helped distribute cases of water, blankets, clothing and household items to families. The organization also donated backpacks with schools supplies and winter clothing to 1,000 students at P.S. 197.

The new Rockaways location is open Monday through Friend from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information visit here.

 

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Friendship Lights brighten up lives of hundreds of New Yorkers


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos by Eli Garcia

Jack Giambanco is sharing the light of friendship.

It all started in the summer of 2012 when Giambanco had a dream involving people from all walks of life and all nationalities holding different colored, glowing lights in their hands.

After waking up, he knew he wanted to replicate the lights. After months of failed attempts, he finally cracked the code and came up with what he now calls “Friendship Lights.”

“From that moment on I could not stop. For a year I was trying to figure out how to make this, make it decent and make it with tools I had,” Giambanco said. “It all came from this one dream, from thin air.”

Friendship Lights are small devices made out of biodegradable and safe plastic that come with a light source that stays on constantly, reminding the holder of the person who gave it to him. The battery for the bubble gum scented lights can last months, and is easily replaceable.

After starting to bring his dream to life out of his Brooklyn home, Giambanco also began a “Friend of the Friendless” program in which he goes to local parks, mostly during the summer, and hands out lights, together with small inspirational notes.

He connects with people either through the free section on Craigslist or also via Facebook. So far, he said, he has given out about 400 lights and has met hundreds of people in the process, all with unique stories.

“It has been amazing,” he said. “I have met people that they don’t seem like they have a story to share and right away they want to talk to me about their situation. I wasn’t expecting to be in that position, but it’s been like a blessing to me.”

Giambanco and his sister shared the first batch of the lights during Sandy, when they saw neighbors who had their homes flooded and power lost. He said the lights helped the children feel more at ease.

“It came from nothing,” he said. “It goes to show that anyone can do anything. You don’t need millions of dollars, if you have a little desire you can do whatever it takes.”

Giambanco says he hopes to one day work with more people on the Friendship Lights project — and move his production to a facility.

Currently Giambanco, who is also a graphic artist at The Queens Courier, is working on the 2014 spring-summer collection that will feature eight specific color combinations. He is also creating lights for anti-war support in the Ukraine, made of yellow and blue, green and white lucky St. Patrick’s Day ones, anti-bully and autism awareness lights.

“I just want to make other people happy and spread good vibes,” he said. “It’s going to be a big summer for the Friendship Lights.”

If you don’t catch Giambanco at one of his “Friend of the Friendless” trips, Friendship Lights can also be purchased online. Giambanco is also looking for volunteers to help either create or spread the love of Friendship Lights. If you are interested, email jack@friendshiplights.com.

 

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LIC community struggles with first weekend of No. 7 train suspensions


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Updated Wednesday, March 12 10:38 a.m.

Warren Linnane, a Long Island City resident, had no idea the No. 7 line would not be working when he went out Saturday night. A subway ride that normally takes 10 to 15 minutes took him and his friend close to three hours.

“We were in the city and couldn’t get home,” he said. “It took us three trains and one cab, that’s more money and more time. It was terrible, I can’t go anywhere. We live here and we can’t get home.”

Linnane — and all of LIC — felt the pinch this past weekend as the community endured the first of more than a dozen weekends of No. 7 train suspensions.

The suspensions were expected to begin February 28, but were cancelled due to expected inclement weather.
Through July 21, there will be 13 weekend suspensions. Those dates are finalized, the MTA said, but there are also nine tentative weekend shutdowns scheduled for August through November.

The suspensions are expected to be in effect from 11:45 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday between Times Square-42nd Street and Queensboro Plaza. On some weekends there will also be reduced or express-only service between 74th Street-Broadway and Queensboro Plaza.

Business owners, like Jeff Blath of Alobar, noticed a difference on Saturday, March 8, when there were fewer customers than usual and some of his employees struggled to get to work and back home.

“It hurts us, there’s no doubt about it,” Blath said. “They [the MTA] did not come to us and say ‘what works the best for your guys?’ It’s just a multitude of problems and no communication.”

Blath said that some of his employees took hours to get home after work. For the upcoming weekend, he hopes to create some sort of specials at Alobar to bring customers to the neighborhood.

“LIC is always talked about because of how easy it is to get to the city, and what happened? They took it away,” he said. “I’m trying my best to stay positive.”

Rebecca Trent, owner of The Creek and The Cave, also shared the same struggle when she tweeted “The No. 7 Train was down today. Quietest Saturday in ages” after only 10 people showed up for one of the shows that day.

“We put everything we have into our jobs,” Trent said. “If the neighborhood doesn’t have consistent No. 7 train service then the neighborhood is not relevant. The selling point of Long Island City is that we’re one stop from Manhattan.”

Trent said that together with other business owners she will work to raise awareness in the neighborhood and also make sure the issue “stays on the radar” of the local politicians. She will also dedicate street team efforts to inform people taking the other subway lines to come visit LIC.

“LIC is very special, there is no other place like it in New York City and I want to see it thrive very badly and it really seems like the MTA is always getting in the way,” she said.

The latest round of work is expected to modernize and improve the Flushing No. 7 line, according to the MTA. The work will also include tunnel duct reconstruction and replacement and improvements on components damaged during Superstorm Sandy.

The MTA said it is waiting on and working with the Long Island City community to set up a marketing campaign for the neighborhood.

However, business owners say the MTA has told them that they are not being given advertising space, but instead can add images and words to the disclosure notices located on subway cars.

“We’re not quite sure what they are giving us right now,” said Sheila Lewandowski, co-founder and executive director of The Chocolate Factory Theater. “We want to do it, we want to make it happen but all sides need to come to the table and work together. Give us the information we need.”

Lewandowski also said the agency is not clear on what they need from them to create the notices and the businesses owners have no idea on how long the notices would stay up.

“The Long Island City community is hurting as a result of the 22 weekends of closures on the No. 7 line. The least that the MTA could do is work actively with the community on the promises that they have made,” Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer said. “Instead, we have seen the MTA add insult to injury by suggesting that the slowness of implementation of a campaign is on someone other than themselves. This simple suggestion is shameful and arrogant.”

Senator Michael Gianaris, who has previously suggested the MTA offer a shuttle bus from Vernon Boulevard through the Queens Midtown Tunnel into the city, plans on immediately communicating the community’s needs to the MTA.

“The MTA must stop treating our communities as if they don’t matter,” Gianaris said. “This unresponsive bureaucracy will keep hearing from me until they get it, which they clearly do not at this time.”

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LIC community voices outrage against upcoming No. 7 train suspensions


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

Long Island City residents and business owners are telling the MTA enough is enough.

The No. 7 train will soon be going through another round of suspensions causing it to not run in parts of western Queens and Manhattan for more than a dozen weekends this year, starting in the end of February, according to a notice from the MTA.

This news again upset residents, business owners and local politicians who gathered in front of the Vernon Boulevard-Jackson Avenue subway station on Friday to tell the MTA they are fed up with the constant disruptions and the lack of notice.

“Real people’s lives are affected in real ways here, this is not a game,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. “This is about human beings, they’re trying to survive and the MTA is trying to kill us. We’ve got to stop this now.”

From February through July, there will be 13 weekend suspensions. Those dates are finalized, the transit agency said. There are nine tentative weekend shutdowns scheduled for August through November.

Business owners are tired of potential financial losses, residents are sick of longer commutes and local politicians just want the MTA to finally listen to their ideas and communicate with the neighborhood.

“It outrageous and all we are asking for is the opportunity to be heard, to present some common sense ideas that we have presented to them year after year after year,” said Senator Michael Gianaris, who has suggested the MTA offer a shuttle bus from Vernon Boulevard through the Queens Midtown Tunnel into the city. “The MTA needs to listen to us once and for all.”

Rebecca Trent, LIC resident and owner of The Creek and The Cave on Jackson Avenue, said the area has grown by 500 percent and the suspension will only make business owners’ jobs harder.

“I don’t know how I’m going to survive this, I do not know and neither do many of my neighbors,” Trent said holding back tears. “What they are trying to do to this neighborhood is disgusting, we deserve better, enough is enough.”

Along with the shuttle service through the Midtown tunnel, Trent also said that in order to compensate the Long Island City community for the “irresponsible shutdowns,” the MTA should give local businesses, who will suffer, free ad space at the E and G subway stations and on the trains.

Richard Mazda, artistic director for The Secret Theatre, said he has had to put up with the disruptions to his business every single year and has faced problems during the annual LIC Arts Open festival, with artists and friends not being able to attend.

“You must have known that you were going to do this work, you have stage managed the release of this information so that we couldn’t fight you, but we will,” Mazda said to the MTA. “This is like the worst movie you have ever seen.”

The latest round of work, including continued installation of Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC), replacement of critical track panels and reconstruction inside the Steinway Tube under the East River, is expected to modernize, improve a fortify the Flushing No. 7 line, according to the MTA. The work will also include tunnel duct reconstruction and replacement and improvements on components damaged during Superstorm Sandy.

“We understand that these service disruptions are inconvenient to the customers who depend on the No. 7 train and we appreciate their patience,” said MTA NYC Transit President Carmen Bianco. “We have made every effort to schedule these project simultaneously to get as much work done as we can during these periods.”

 

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Sandy firefighter heroes recognized on anniversary


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Maggie Hayes

One year ago they were in boats and swimming through floodwaters to rescue the residents of south Queens as it was battered by Sandy.

On the anniversary of the superstorm, Vetro by Russo’s on the Bay gathered the firefighter crews and recognized them for their bravery.

“Around 9:30 p.m. that night we got seven feet of water in the firehouse,” said Deputy Chief Andy Zych of the West Hamilton Beach Fire Department.

The department’s fire trucks, ambulances and equipment were ruined. So a neighbor lent the crew a fishing boat, and they got to paddling. Zych and a fellow firefighter rescued a woman, her mother and their two dogs from their flooding home and brought them to the firehouse.

“In a time like that, you don’t think. You just try and do the best you can,” he said.

Meanwhile, in Broad Channel, the local firehouse was also flooded with seven feet of water, but the crew set out into the night.

“On a regular, everyday basis, you don’t worry about anything else other than the task at hand,” said Deputy Chief Eddie Wilmarth. “But the majority of us live down here. You know as you’re grabbing people out of their houses, you know your own house is being destroyed.”

Before the storm, the Broad Channel Fire Department took a head count of everyone staying in town so they knew “who was where, and what they need,” Wilmarth said.

As the wind and rain pushed on, the floodwaters were too deep for trucks to drive through, so rescue swimmers were sent out to respond to a fire that broke out on a flood-prone street. The current was too strong for them to make it, so they swung ropes around poles to pull themselves across the intersection.

In the end, the flood put out the fire.

“We were on our own. We were the only ones operating,” Wilmarth said.

The Broad Channel department also lost all of its trucks and ambulances. But, as Wilmarth said, “the fire world is a big brotherhood,” and all of the storm-affected firehouses received equipment from all over the country.

West Hamilton Beach received a fire truck from a crew in Mississippi, who had been given that same truck after Hurricane Katrina.

Both fire crews and others in the area are back up and running, but say they’re still not back to 100 percent. Even still, they were back responding to calls just days after Sandy.

“If anything happens, we will be there,” Zych said.

 

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Sandy: Looking back on a year


| editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Top photo by Melissa Chan/Bottom photo by Alexa Altman

October 29, 2012—the day Sandy reared her ugly head and barreled through, leaving a swath of destruction in her wake.

In this week’s issue and online, The Courier has brought you tales of rebuilding, tales of resiliency – and stories of a borough that is bouncing back.

Here’s a recap of the stories:

 

PHOTOS: Sandy Then & Now


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Sandy Then and Now

THEN

THE COURIER/Photo by Alexa Altman

NOW

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

THEN

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

NOW

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

THEN

THE COURIER/Photo by Alexa Altman

NOW

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

THEN

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

NOW

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

 

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SANDY ONE YEAR LATER: Cross Bay businesses make a comeback


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Liam La Guerre

After opening her two-floor hair salon and spa on Cross Bay Boulevard in July last year, Kimberly Langona was devastated when months later, it was partially destroyed.

Superstorm Sandy wiped out the entire first floor of Explosion Hair Styling, destroying equipment including hair dryers, electrical wiring, furniture and computers.

“Everything was lost,” said Langona, who rebuilt the entire salon and replaced all the equipment, which cost an estimated $150,000. “I couldn’t even tell you how hard it was to turn people away.”

Photo courtesy Kimberly Langona

Explosions Hair Styling was completely reconstructed after receiving massive damage from Sandy. (THE COURIER/ Photo by Liam La Guerre)

Full power was not restored to the building until December of last year, but Langona kept the salon and spa partially open by utilizing generators on the second floor, which is called Serenity Day Spa.

Now, a year later, business is buzzing at full capacity in the salon, much like other businesses on Cross Bay Boulevard.

The Howard Beach commercial strip was under water after Sandy struck on October 29, and many businesses were forced to close. Some never reopened and others endured months of rebuilding before making a comeback.

“It was a mess,” said Joe De Candia, owner of Lenny’s Clam Bar. “You couldn’t fathom that much water.”

About four feet of water rushed into the restaurant, a 40-year staple in the community which is famous for serving numerous celebrities. The force of the flooding tossed tables and chairs outside the eatery and the garbage compactor was moved four blocks away. All the electrical equipment and wiring on the first floor was destroyed and the walls were soaked with water.

The restaurant lost power for about three weeks, but De Candia said they immediately started making repairs, which were paid for out-of-pocket. After the power returned it took another two weeks before they had a partial reopening.

“We were limping but we were able to reopen,” De Candia said.

But because of Sandy, Lenny’s was able to come back bigger and better. The gym next door, Better Bodies Fitness for Women, wasn’t able to rebuild so De Candia bought the property and expanded the restaurant and added a party room. He also shifted the bar to make it bigger.

Lenny’s wasn’t the only business that improved following the storm.
Scott Baron & Associates PC completely rebuilt the first floor, making it more functional and adding state of-the-art-technology.

The law office, which has been known as a community champion for nearly 20 years, finally held its grand reopening in June. Before the Howard Beach office reopened though, Scott Baron, the owner, said they moved operations to their office in Yonkers.

Baron is happy that the commercial strip is back again and said it’s a testament to the community sticking together.

“I saw a lot of store owners helping store owners and neighbors helping neighbors, because everyone was in the same boat,” Baron said. “The community really came together.”

 

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