Mark Mina watched his Rockaway Park storefront burn to the ground during Sandy, and over $1 million and priceless memorabilia go down with it. But today, his Beach 116th Street business has risen from the ashes.
“The storm just brought determination out and made us stronger every day,” said Mina, owner of MSM/Elite Production Consultants.
That October night, Mina said his company “lost everything, not even a paper clip was saved.” The landlord of the building called the night of the storm and said the place was up in flames.
“I ran down here with my truck. The fire chief tackled me to stop me from going in,” he said. “We sat and watched the building burn for about 12 hours. We couldn’t do anything.”
But the show had to go on, and Mina opened a temporary location in a John F. Kennedy International Airport warehouse.
Meanwhile, FEMA, Mina’s insurance company and Small Business Services said they couldn’t help him rebuild, and Mina paid about $130,000 out of pocket to rebuild what the superstorm took.
He set up shop on the second floor of a Beach 116th Street building and today says he’s “almost in the black again,” and the camaraderie amongst street business owners kept morale alive.
The Beach 116th Street Partnership was formed and “we weren’t alone,” Mina said.
“As we did feel in despair from government agencies, we worked and helped each other,” he said. “I just want to see this place prosper again.”
Krzysztof Sadlej, executive director of the partnership, said over a year after the storm, customer volume is “starting to pick back up, kind of to par.”
“We’re still gaining momentum,” he said.
Although Beach 116th Street is not completely whole, Mina said “good karma” is coming their way.
“There are still a lot of people healing,” he said. “But we have each other to lean on, to motivate and just get a hug if you need it.”