Gov. Kathy Hochul was in Far Rockaway Friday morning, Oct. 28, to mark the 10th anniversary of Superstorm Sandy with a walking tour of the rejuvenated downtown area of the neighborhood.
During a presentation at the Far Rockaway Community Church of the Nazarene, Hochul praised the heroes along the Rockaway Peninsula after more than a thousand homes and small businesses were destroyed by the 10-foot flood surge as Sandy came ashore on Oct. 29, 2012.
I’m in Far Rockaway to make an announcement and commemorate the 10th anniversary of Superstorm Sandy. Watch live: https://t.co/nFX6DEbxdz
— Governor Kathy Hochul (@GovKathyHochul) October 28, 2022
“There were 60 families that lost a loved one 10 years ago. They were real people’s lives that were lost. It was just so horrific,” Hochul said. “And then there was the bravery of the first responders and firefighters who put their lives on the line even when some of their own homes were on fire. They didn’t stay to protect their own homes; they went out to protect others.”
She also praised the pastor of the Far Rockaway Community Church, Rev. Dr. Les Mullings, who turned his old Church of the Nazarene into a disaster relief center.
“It was the only building in the community with the lights on at the time, and it became a beacon of light for this community,” Hochul said. “For a long time, you helped feed over 3,500 people a day. That’s extraordinary. You distributed clothes and food and over 70,000 cases of water and raised nearly $7 million in relief funds. This became a model for others of what you do when you get knocked down and knocked down hard. You rise up, you embrace hope and you look out for each other and that’s exactly what went on here.”
She presented Dr. Mullings and first lady Crescent Mullings with a proclamation.
“Undoubtedly, Superstorm Sandy was one of the most difficult times for the Far Rockaway community,” he said. “We experienced the loss of basic necessities, the ability to work. Many people lost their homes, and some people even lost their lives. We didn’t know it at the time but that storm would prove to be a turning point for our forgotten community.”
He said all you have to do is walk down Central Avenue to see the renaissance of the downtown area.
“In a way, you can say the storm helped us to rise out of the ashes like never before,” Mullings said. “You can consider us the phoenix.”
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards recalled his time representing the neighborhood on the City Council.
“We all know Superstorm Sandy didn’t discriminate. Didn’t matter whether you were rich. Didn’t matter your socioeconomic status. Didn’t matter your race or religion,” Richards said. “It hit all of us on the peninsula. It didn’t matter if you were in Far Rockaway or Breezy Point.”
The governor used the occasion to announce the creation of the permanent Office of Resilient Homes and Communities to lead New York’s housing recovery and resiliency efforts by working with communities before and after future disasters.
“The creation of the Office of Storm Recovery and Resiliency from the governor is wonderful news for our communities,” Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato said. “As we commemorate the decade since Hurricane Sandy, it is so important to remember how far we’ve come, and how resilient we have shown we are, especially in south Queens. While we have built back there is more work to be done and this new Office solidifies a commitment to help guide and ensure our continued success in all efforts of storm recovery.”
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz delivered remarks at the church recalling taking over as borough president just over a year after the storm.
“Superstorm Sandy brought unprecedented devastation to Queens County. On this 10-year anniversary, we continue to remember those we lost and acknowledge the perseverance of everyone whose lives were forever changed by the storm,” Katz said. “Unfortunately, severe weather is becoming more and more frequent due to the impact of climate change, and we must continue to build better, stronger infrastructure to protect our neighborhoods. New York state, under the leadership of Governor Hochul, is leading the way in storm recovery and coastal resiliency efforts and the new state entity announced today will further that work to help keep us safe and thriving.”