No one alive to experience it will ever be able to forget Hurricane Sandy, one of the worst natural disasters ever to hit Queens and much of the northeast United States.
Though the storm made landfall near Atlantic City, NJ, at about 6 p.m. on Oct. 29, 2012 — five years ago today — the New York City area was pounded with an extraordinary storm surge and heavy winds, causing widespread damage to coastal areas such as Howard Beach, the Rockaways and Staten Island.
Waves wiped out the Rockaway Boardwalk and homes all along the peninsula. The surf caused widespread damage in Broad Channel and left much of Cross Bay Boulevard in Howard Beach under water. Winds in excess of 70 mph whipped a fire across Breezy Point that destroyed more than a hundred homes. Firefighters — unable to get close to the fire due to flooding — could only stand and watch as the fire consumed one home after another.
What follows are some of the images The Queens Courier and the Ridgewood Times published in the days after Sandy slammed Queens.
While New York City alone had a death toll of 41, CNN reported that at least 92 people lost their lives in the United States as a whole. Governor Andrew Cuomo said the storm cost the state $32.8 billion in repair and restoration costs, with $15 million spent in New York City.
In the immediate aftermath, people from across the city and country rallied to assist the storm victims. Communities held impromptu relief drives, gathering supplies to help storm-stricken residents rebuild. At the same time, Queens also grappled with diminished resources; gasoline, in particular, was in short supply, and emergency fuel trucks were brought in to power up vehicles and generators.
The city’s infrastructure also took a massive hit. The Queens Midtown Tunnel, along with the Greenpoint Tube that carries the G train below the Newtown Creek, were flooded with salt water. The MTA scrambled to make temporary repairs to bring the tunnels back into service, and embarked in the years that followed on a massive rebuilding plan. Still, the rebuilding goes on as the authority makes permanent repairs while simultaneously shoring up the infrastructure for whenever the next major coastal storm hits the area.
Hurricane Sandy have left a last mark on these communities. Despite numerous efforts to rebuild the area, including the controversial Build it Back program, some areas still haven’t completely recovered now five years removed from Sandy.