NEW DORP BEACH and CONEY ISLAND, NY (PIX11)—The areas hit hardest by Sandy in New York City work intensely now to clean up, but their greatest concern is that the Nor'easter forecast to hit our area this Wednesday will significantly set back their efforts to recover, and could make their bad situation all the worse.
Two of the hardest hit areas were Coney Island, Brooklyn and Staten Island. The New Dorp Beach, Midland Beach and Tottenville neighborhoods of Staten Island suffered the highest death tolls from Sandy, with at least 19 casualties. On Monday, residents were out in force there attempting to get as much debris out of their homes as possible, that is, if they had homes at all. Some structures had been swept off their foundations, or were otherwise total losses.
Joining residents in their efforts were hundreds of workers and contractors from the city's department of sanitation. Using bulldozers, front end loaders, garbage trucks and dump trucks, they had created at least two mounds of debris three storeys high, each covering an area the size of a city block.
The workers had gone into the neighborhoods in garbage trucks, into which they piled debris that was then driven to the two collection points on the island's eastern shore, which was stacked by front end loaders and other heavy equipment there. Meanwhile, other heavy machinery transferred the rising hill of waterlogged furniture, toys, building materials, downed trees and other detritus into semi trailer dump trucks, which then took the waste to landfills.
Rosa Romero, a 31-year resident of New Dorp Beach whose gutted home is directly across Father Capodanno Boulevard from the massive temporary waste depository, voiced a concern that's on the minds of many people trying to clean up and rebuild: what effect would the storm forecast for Wednesday have on their individual clean up and recovery efforts?
"The high winds," Romero said, pointing to the debris pile across the street, "would blow it all back. It's going to become a health hazard."
That was among many concerns related to the impending storm. "We are very worried about the Nor'easter coming in," Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, (D) NY, said at a news conference with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and others at a FEMA relief center in Coney Island.
"Identifying the elderly in need is essential to their well being," the senator said as she called on neighbors to alert police or other authorities about older people who may be in danger when the mid-week major storm blows in.
Napolitano had advice for everyone in the Tri-State. "Everything people did to get ready for Sandy," she said, "we need to do for the Nor'easter."