Survivors remember Hurricane Sandy five years later

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Going up: Build it Back busy elevating the homes in the Sheepshead Bay courts.
Taking a look: Councilman Chaim Deutsch (D–Sheepshead Bay) walks with contractors during a tour of the courts on Oct. 26.
Damaged: Several homes in the courts are now abandoned or foreclosed.
Above water: An elevated home in Sheepshead Bay’s courts.
Love shines a light: State Sen. Roxanne Persaud (D–Canarsie) leads a Hurricane Sandy vigil for the five-year anniversary at Canarsie Pier on Oct. 29.
Never forget: Community members bow their heads for a moment of silence during the vigil.

They’re getting stronger every year.

Communities devastated by Hurricane Sandy came together for a candlelight vigil for the fifth anniversary of the superstorm during torrential rain at Canarsie Pier on Oct. 29. The cold rain and strong winds unfortunately deterred more people from coming out, but the weather was also a poignant reminder of what so many families went through the night of the 2012 storm, and how much they have rebuilt since, said the founder of the Canarsie Disaster Recovery Coalition.

“We were weathering the storm, we had our candles and flashlights,” said Lucina Clarke, whose own home basement flooded with six feet of water the night of the storm. “It was just a reminder what was about to happen to us, it was a little scary, but it was comforting to know we are such a resilient people and we have come a long way.”

The roughly two dozen attendees enjoyed song and prayer from choir members and religious leaders from the local Beraca Baptist Church, and everyone bowed their heads for a moment of silence. Seeing everyone come together, even huddled under a shelter away from the rain was again a reminder of everyone’s strength, said state Sen. Roxanne Persaud (D–Canarsie), who urged everyone to be prepared for the next storm.

“Even though some are still in recovery mode from the ravages of Sandy, their resilience was evident as they gathered for this annual Candlelight Vigil on Canarsie Pier,” she said. “I call on constituents to have their own emergency plan for their family and loved ones. Be prepared.”

Just three days earlier, Councilman Chaim Deutsch (D–Sheepshead Bay) and officials with the city’s Build it Back recovery program took a tour of the Courts in Sheepshead Bay — a neighborhood set five feet below street-level that was hit particularly hard by Sandy. The community faced even more difficulty as it tried to rebuild, so to finally see houses getting lifted off the ground was an emotional and proud moment, said Missy Haggerty, who lives on Lake Avenue and helped her neighbors escape the night of the 2012 storm.

“I’m happy we got to this point, we fought for it,” she said. “It took so long, but sometimes good things come to those who wait, that’s what I believe.”

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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