Seeing is believing, according to Congressmember Gregory Meeks, and so he called upon fellow Congressmember Steny Hoyer to view Queens’ post-Sandy damage firsthand.
“We need to get more people to come out and see,” said Meeks after he and Hoyer toured the Rockaways on Thursday, December 6.
Hoyer is the Minority Whip, the second highest ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives. The influential Maryland congressmember can pass along the message of what he saw and speed the acquisition of federal aid, according to Meeks.
“Some people think we’re just asking for money, and they don’t know why,” said Meeks. “Once they see, I believe they believe.”
For their Rockaways tour, Hoyer and Meeks joined Colonel Kent Savre and Colonel Trey Jordan, both of the Army Corps of Engineers. Savre and Jordan briefed the congressmembers on the extent of the damage and the recovery efforts.
“I think it’s wonderful that he came out,” said Dolores Orr, Community Board 14 chair. “Seeing it on TV and in pictures doesn’t show the magnitude of the issues.”
Throughout the course of the day, Hoyer and Savre viewed debris disposal at Floyd Bennett Field while traveling to Jacob Riis Park, where they met Meeks and Jordan. Hoyer and Meeks then continued to the Breezy Point fire site, Neponsit, Rockaway Park, Shore Front Parkway and Beach 86th Street.
“As recovery efforts continue, I will be working with the Obama administration and my colleagues in Congress to ensure that Rockaway Peninsula and other affected communities across the East Coast have the resources needed to clean up and recover,” said Hoyer.
Aside from seeing the destruction at face value, Hoyer was able to view damaged home, business and beachside infrastructure. “There are weather incidents with catastrophic consequences,” he said, adding that urgency should to be put into rebuilding, and the coordination in doing so needs to be much better.
Orr, who also heads the Rockaway Beach Civic Association, spoke for all residents when saying that there was a great need for more jetties on multiple points of the beach, and that when the boardwalk is rebuilt, a sea wall that will protect the community should be included.
“The fact that [Hoyer] came up here does give us some hope that we have finally reached the exposure that we have been waiting 40 years for,” she said. “We live here. It’s not new housing stock. It’s been a need.”