Tuesday, October 29, 2013

TWF 225: A Sandy Retrospective, One Year Later

Hello, Freeport,

Well, we've survived our first "Post-Sandy" year, at least according to the generally accepted calendar we all live under!  It's been, well...Rough.  Very rough.  This article is dedicated to the real experience Freeport endured at this time.  I'm keeping it simple, but I would like you to contact me after reading this, and I'd like you to post any images that you have to our facebook pages.

I'd also like to give three up-front shout-outs, one to Jason Bass who helped me record some of this stuff, and one to Friends of Freeport for helping to rebuild our town.  Third, of course, goes to our first responders for the efforts they put forth.

The Hurricane Sandy Timeline

This was, honestly, one of those events that we'll always "remember where you were."  In fifty years, some of us will be asked about the storm and we'll remember where we were.  It's just the way that storm went.  So, I guess in honor of that, here's where I was:

On Friday, October 26th, 2012, this publication posted an article about what was being touted as a "Frankenstorm."  That's right, did you forget that term?  We all did.  We all had a reason to.  By Monday, October 29th, 2012, I reported in one of my 10+ updates that Sandy was, well, hitting hard.  I remember, particularly, that when we lost power in the apartment I was staying at (in Hempstead), I went out to my car, got an ancient and barely-functional battery-powered AM/FM radio, searched through the channels with a broken channel display until I finally got reliable news.  I even tried to post on my smart-phone, an outdated-by-years Blackberry.

It was not a fun night.

The next day, my friend Jason and I went down to Freeport.  Our first stop was my house, in the first of many video recordings we made.  Some people like them, some don't.  Go figure.  And, yes, this is my basement.

Moving on, we checked the entire town out.  This particular house haunted me:

I keep reiterating, it looks like someone took a sci-fi laser to the place and sliced the bulk of it off after the five-foot marker.  It's just...Scary, man.

I remember stopping by Atlantic Pizzeria and speaking to the owner of the flooded-out business.  He gave us the flash memory on his camera to download some video and pictures he'd taken.  They were of Sandy's actual impact into Freeport, and they're not pretty.  Of course, those pictures are no longer with us on the internet.  However, we have some video below:

Of course, we're far from the only community hit by this disaster.  All of Long Island suffered; NYC's subways were inundated; New Jersey's boardwalk was demolished by the floods; and Queens' Breezy Point, in particular was devastated by fire:

Image courtesy of businessinsider.com

To top it all off, just a week after Sandy smashed us and crippled our power and electric grids, on November 7, 2012, a massive Nor'Easter called "Athena" buried our area in snow.  We had officially experienced a "summer" storm and a "winter" storm within ten days of one another, and our communities suffered greatly.

Superstorm Hurricane Sandy's Legacy

I mentioned the now-forgotten term "Frankenstorm."  Most people will remember this as a "Superstorm," because by the time Sandy made land-fall it had supposedly been downgraded out of the "Hurricane" status- as it, of course, melded with prevailing wind patterns and decimated us.  I personally recall it being considered a "Hurricane" by meteorologists as the first effects hit us, so I will always refer to it as a Hurricane.

To me, the "superstorm" title is often semantically mis-applied to either defraud victims or - I know, brace yourself - insurers.  Of course, by defrauding an insurer you weaken it's ability to pay other victims a fair compensation, so in reality it's often used by scammers to...We don't want to hear about that.  We don't, but in order to do a fair retrospective I have to point out the good as well as the bad.

So, let's get another bad out of the way:  I am yet to hear of any actual numbers on how we're going to pay for Sandy damages (I mean really pay for all of them), let alone on how we're going to prevent them.  I wrote an article about this back in January, but it bears repeating that our property tax system is broken.  it is broken, and nobody I know of has offered a solid way to fix it.  Ed Mangano and Tom Suozzi are at it again...But nobody's talking about this, are they?!

What's worse is that even if you win an assessment grievance against the Village of Freeport, they will turn around and assess you at the already-struck-down value in the following year, forcing you to fight it again and again.  I know because my family is engaged in this practice - and, our house was far from totaled, as opposed to some friends of mine who literally don't have floors on their first floors!  So, there's plenty of bad news bears still about.

However, in all of the bad, there's some tremendous good that's come out of this, as well.  As per the link, and the shout-out at the start of the article, I've already said a lot about the Friends of Freeport.  Then there's the Nautical Mile Festival of 2013.  That was a huge success, too!  Our Village has slowly crept back into shape.  Just like after the original "Long Island Express," the disaster which killed well over 600 Long Islanders back in 1938, we have rebuilt in spite of the costs and refused to allow nature to drive us away from our lives.

There is still a very bright future ahead for us, provided we can overcome the true challenges Sandy left behind in her wake - being prepared and stable enough so that "the next one" doesn't have a chance of impacting our lives the way that "the last one" did.