Tag Archives: superstorm sandy

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


By Queens Courier Staff | 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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SANDY ONE YEAR LATER: Houses spring up in Breezy Point ‘fire zone’


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Rebuilding photos by Melissa Chan/Fire photo by Alexa Altman

Nobody can keep Breezy Point down, not even Sandy.

A year after the storm wiped away longstanding houses and an electrical fire burned down 135 residences, the framework for dozens of homes have appeared, particularly in a once vacant, ash-filled lot, in what residents have called the “fire zone.”

“The level of activity is mind boggling. Houses are up all over. It’s a major construction scene,” said Arthur Lighthall, general manager of the Breezy Point Cooperative. “I’m just overwhelmed that we’ve seen so much activity, as I was overwhelmed the two weeks after the storm thinking we’d never see this community come back to the way it is.”

The co-op office sees building applications coming in daily. As of October 17, the management team had seen 117 from home and business owners looking to rebuild.

Lighthall estimates they see two to three applications a day and said they are doing their “best” to gauge whether the building-design submissions fit the co-op’s limits.

Those limits reflect the city’s, Lighthall said, which require a base height of two feet, plus an additional foot. Each home’s height requirement depends upon the flood zone as well as the current sidewalk or land height of the area.

The building of 30 to 40 houses is underway and an additional 12 to 15 plans are in the final stages of being approved and can soon start rebuilding, according to Lighthall.

Building design applications are typically “identical” to what was there before.

“People just want their houses back,” Lighthall said.

The majority of residents are paying for the construction costs with FEMA grants, insurance money, or help from family. Roughly 1,700 homeowners applied for the city Build-it-Back program, but are waiting to hear what, if any, funds they will be granted.

“The people are doing it themselves in the community,” Lighthall said.

 

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Street Talk: What are your memories of Sandy?


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Street Talk Sandy

What I remember most is all of the houses destroyed, all of the people who suffered.

Ronald Kenchon

The slow reaction of the mayor and the insufficient plan for the disaster that was coming.

The mayor didn’t come to the aid of the outer boroughs quickly enough.

Robert Garner

It destroyed a lot of New Jersey and New York. Many people got hurt.

Daniel Ketz

I remember being really scared because nothing like that had ever happened to me before. Luckily our house wasn’t destroyed or anything, but a few friends of mine in Rockaway wound up with no power for a few days.

Gabby Hinton

I didn’t think it was going to be as big as deal as it turned out to be. Our house didn’t lose power but my parents kept us inside for a few days because they were afraid there would be looting.

Nathalie Blackmon

Our house didn’t have power for a couple of days, but my mom bought enough emergency food to last us in the meantime. I was pretty scared for my friends in other areas who I couldn’t get in touch with though.

Sharia Stevens

We sat by our front door and at about 9 p.m. the water started to rise above our entrance. We were helpless in our efforts to prevent the water from coming in. We waited it out. The water level was at a car door. It was very eerie because the power was off.

Herb Listopad

We had no electricity for 27 or 28 days. Fortunately, we live on the second floor. It was really windy, the trees were blowing and then the water came in. I would say about seven feet high outside. Boats were coming down my street. People were paddling boats to rescue people that were on their roofs or on the second floor.

Eric Hill

I live in Ozone Park so nothing much was going on over there. It was windy and looking out the window you could see the rain.

Ivan Wylie

I was standing in front my house and I actually saw the water when it was first coming. The water started to come from around the corner and flood the whole street. We were stunned we had never seen anything like that before so we came back in the house. It was such a frightening thing. We started to go up the steps because the water started to come in higher and higher.

Elliot Jacks

I think my block was the only one that still had power after the storm. We took a stroll to [Cross Bay Boulevard]. It was pretty bad. The trees were knocked down everywhere.

Yvan Pangilinan

The water had no place to go, it flooded the streets and it went up the streets and into everyone’s homes and it flooded the entire first level of the house. The upstairs was not touched. Everything downstairs had to be replaced: the heating, the air conditioning, every piece of furniture, the floor, the walls…

Dorris Brown

BY LIAM LA GUERRE, JOHANN HAMILTON & RACHEL LANDAU

 

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Family of Flushing Sandy victim officially files suit against city


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan and courtesy of Facebook

The family of the Flushing man tragically killed by a felled tree during Sandy has officially filed a lawsuit against the city, legal sources said.

“The city has completely ignored the situation with their trees in Queens,” said the family’s attorney, Rosemarie Arnold.

Arnold filed a notice of claim in January on behalf of Tony Laino, 29, who is considered the storm’s first New York City victim.

He was pinned under a tree that ripped through his second-floor bedroom on October 29, police said.

“Around the corner from where this happened, someone else was killed last week,” said Arnold, referring to the pregnant woman recently killed by a tree in Kissena Park.

The attorney said the Lainos fought in vain for at least a decade to get the towering threat in front of their house removed.

She told The Courier the city tree was “overgrown, rotten and improperly pruned” and fell when it was confronted by predicted 80 miles per hour hurricane winds.

The victim’s parents, Carol and Robert Laino, and one of his two brothers, Nicholas Laino, are now suing for emotional, mental distress and monetary damages, including funeral and burial expenses, according to the claim.

“Let’s hope this lawsuit saves at least one other mother from the torment that Carol Laino is experiencing because of the unnecessary loss of her child,” Arnold said.

The amount the family plans to sue for is not yet determined, according to their lawyer.

The city’s Law Department said it was “awaiting a formal copy of the lawsuit and will review it upon receipt.”

“We recognize that the incident involves a loss of life, which is tragic,” said department spokesperson Elizabeth Thomas.

 

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Statue of Liberty, closed since Sandy, to reopen by July 4


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NPS

One of America’s most iconic symbols of freedom, the Statue of Liberty will be open in time to celebrate the country’s birthday, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and U.S. Senator Charles Schumer announced today.

The monument has been closed since Sandy.

“[The storm] inflicted major damage on facilities that support the Statue of Liberty – destroying the docks, crippling the energy infrastructure on Ellis Island and wiping out the security screening system – but we are fully committed to reopening this crown jewel as soon as it’s safe for visitors and not a second later,” said Salazar . “Based on the tremendous progress we have made, Lady Liberty will be open to the public in time for the July 4th celebration.”

The Statue of Liberty is an important part of the city’s economy during the holiday and the rest of the year. According to Salazar, a report released last month by the National Park Service found that 3.7 million people visited Statue of Liberty national park in 2011, bringing in $174 million in economic activity and supporting 2,218 jobs.

“Lady Liberty was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy, but just like New York, she will be back – and stronger than ever, said Schumer. “Being open for the summer tourism season isn’t just important symbolically, it’s a boon to the city’s economy and businesses, as the statue attracts millions of tourists from all over the world to our shores.”

Work to remove the damaged Liberty Island Shuttle Dock. (Photo by Kevin Daley, NPS Photographer)

 

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Cuomo files proposal for spending Sandy aid


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Governor Cuomo's Flickr

BY ANTHONY O’REILLY

Governor Andrew Cuomo became the first state leader to file a proposal for federal aid to houses and businesses that were damaged during Sandy.

Cuomo’s state action plan, available for public review at nyshcr.org/Publications, outlines how the state intends to spend its first $1.7 billion dollars allocated by the Sandy aid bill signed into law by President Obama in January.

“Superstorm Sandy was the worst storm to hit New York State and our region in recorded history, and its impact devastated homes and businesses across Long Island and the metro area,” said Cuomo. “This plan was put together with the input of homeowners and small businesses in affected communities, and it will serve as a blueprint to guide our housing and private sector recovery.”

The proposal now awaits approval from the U.S. Department of Housing and Development, the agency designated with supervising the federal government’s response to Sandy.

“We have worked closely with the State of New York to identify areas of unmet need and ensure that this first round of CDBG-DR funding helps families and small businesses get back on their feet,” Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan said. “I look forward to building on the partnership we have created with Governor Cuomo to help communities in New York rebuild in a way that makes them stronger, more economically competitive and better able to withstand the next storm.”

Under the proposal, $663 million will be allocated for relief to single family housing, $124 million to multi-family housing and $415 million to bringing back businesses affected by the storm.

If the proposal is approved, the state would also create several programs to help distribute funds. Twenty million dollars would be used in an infrastructure bank, where eligible infrastructure projects can apply for assistance. A community restructuring program would receive $25 million, benefitting communities that have been severely damaged following the storm. Energy related projects would receive $30 million, to help develop critical backup power systems.

“We have been working hand in hand with our federal partners since the day Sandy struck and every day since,” Cuomo said. “The state will provide whatever assistance and collaboration necessary to see that HUD approves these plans as quickly as possible so we can get this aid to the New Yorkers who need and deserve it.”

 

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LIC Bar gives back to The Who’s favorite charity


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of TheWho.com

They’re back for an encore.

A Sandy-struck venue that received a new sound system from music icons The Who is returning the favor by hosting a fundraiser to benefit one of the band’s favorite charities, Teen Cancer America.

LIC Bar, at 45-58 Vernon Boulevard, was inundated by seven feet of water during the superstorm, wiping out its entire cache of electronic equipment. The Who heard about the venue’s plight when LIC Bar patron Robert Basch alerted members of the band’s record label about the damage when the revered British group stopped in Brooklyn during their “Quadrophenia” tour in November.

The band donated gear from Shure Microphones and Peavey Electronics, the same state-of-the-art equipment The Who uses at their shows, to get the venue up and running again.

With its regular line-up back on track, LIC Bar wanted to show their appreciation.

“We decided to do this event in order to thank The Who for what they did for LIC Bar,” said the venue’s talent booker Gustavo Rodriguez. “We came up with the idea of throwing a fundraiser for their charity as a way to give back.”

On Saturday, February 23, LIC Bar will host a concert to benefit Teen Cancer America, an organization founded by the band that works to improve the lives of adolescents and young adults with cancer. Who’s Next, a well-known tribute band, will perform songs from the international rock group’s catalog. Godfrey Townshend, a guitarist who played with The Who’s late bassist, John Entwistle, will also perform an acoustic set.

Bill Canell, Who’s Next’s guitarist and a close friend of The Who’s guitarist Pete Townshend, said the band is ecstatic about the fundraiser.

“They love it,” said Canell. “It’s all good and they’re extremely happy. Anything that gives back to a charity, they’re grateful that we’re doing it.”

Tickets for the event are $20 with all proceeds going directly to Teen Cancer America.

Additional funds will be raised through a raffle, including a valuable Gibson SG guitar, signed by Pete Townshend and several items signed by The Who’s frontman Roger Daltrey.

Rodriguez said he hopes the event will raise between $3,000 and $5,000 for Teen Cancer America.

Photo courtesy of Bill Canell

 

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Agencies give Sandy testimony before City Council


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Nearly three months after the storm devastated the tri-state area, and with residents still trying to recover, the City Council has begun investigating how various agencies handled Sandy.

Testimony has been given by representatives of the Office of Emergency Management (OEM), the New York City Housing Authority, Con Edison and the Long Island Power Authority, among other agencies.

Councilmember Eric Ulrich, when addressing OEM, inquired why the West Hamilton Beach Volunteer Fire Department had been denied a request for a rescue boat, despite the anticipated flooding in the hamlet. Ulrich also asked why OEM had not looked at the Breezy Point Cooperative’s evacuation plan, or had better communication with the several volunteer fire departments of southern Queens.

OEM Commissioner Joseph Bruno said commissioners had been on the ground working with volunteer fire departments on plans during the lead up to the storm and had always maintained communications between the volunteers and the FDNY. It was not the office’s policy to approve of other entities’ evacuation plans, he said, but OEM could give input for both cooperatives and volunteer fire departments in the future, he said.

Ulrich suggested to Bruno that once recovery is completely over, and some stability is back in the area, OEM officials begin to work with these waterside communities to better prepare for future storms.

“I think in the next year it might be a good time, when everything settles and the rebuilding starts and life gets somewhat back to normal, that OEM try to engage these communities and these fire departments.”

 

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Op-Ed: Helping businesses recover


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BY ASSEMBLYMEMBER WILLIAM SCARBOROUGH

New York has experienced a number of severe storms in recent years, and the resulting damage has been devastating to residents and to businesses. Damage from the two storms is said to exceed $40 billion to New Yorkers, and it is evident that we can now expect more severe weather events in the future. The damage to residences is tragic, but equally devastating is the damage to businesses, especially small businesses.

Small business is the key to many local economies as well as the engine that drive the overall economic recovery of our region. Many small businesses have been shut down due to storm damage in the Rockaways, Staten Island and elsewhere, or are severely restricted in their ability to do business. History shows that if these businesses cannot recover within 6 to 12 months they often do not reopen, or close theirs doors if they cannot return to economic viability. There is a huge loss to the community in terms of economic activity and the loss of jobs.

As Chair of the Assembly Committee on Small Business, I am introducing legislation to create a Severe Weather Business Recovery Tax Credit in New York State. A similar program has been hugely successful in Joplin, Missouri and has greatly aided that city in returning to economic viability after an F5 tornado destroyed Joplin in May, 2011. New Yorkers have been extraordinarily generous with their time and resources during times of crisis, but I hear repeatedly from businesses which have not gotten the resources they need, or have not gotten them in a timely manner. The Business Recovery Tax Credit would provide for a 50% credit on donations of $1,000 or more and donations would go directly to assisting businesses to recover from the effects of the storm. The fund would be overseen by the Empire State Development Corporation, and be administered locally through the Chamber of Commerce.  Donations made through calendar year 2013 would be eligible for the credit.

Local communities need their businesses back, and thriving. Their employees need their jobs back, our regional economy needs these businesses to do well for our economic recovery. A big part of rebuilding these communities involves rebuilding these businesses. When people have their jobs or can find a new one in their community, they are more likely to stay in that community. Hope is restored when people have jobs, and the goods and services that businesses provide. Restoring these businesses will help to restore the community, and residents, not-for-profits and schools all benefit. Even with insurance, bank assistance and federal and local disaster programs, our local businesses need additional assistance. This program will allow those wishing to help out to donate in an organized meaningful manner, while getting something back for their generosity, and helping to rebuild our communities and our economy.

 

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