a gay black woman's discovery of her jewish self

Another Day in Far Rockaway

Posted on: November 4, 2012

Driving through the Rockaways is surreal. When exiting the bridge the first thing you notice is the seagulls hovering over the newly created pile of trash that’s being collected in the parking lot of Riis beach. As you drive down Rockaway Beach Boulevard in the 100s the bay is to your left and the upper to middle class beach homes are on your right. It’s those beach homes that are leaving out 6″ tall piles of debris from the homes that have been flooded. Piles of couches, desks, tables and chairs, books and toys-everything has been lost.

The streets are still made of sand and there still aren’t traffic lights. People look tired and cold, bundled up in winter gear. As you get closer to the 90s and then the 80s the scenery starts to change. The beautiful beach-side bungalows and two story homes give way to empty parking lots, desolate strip malls and projects. Still further down-to the 50s and the 30s-where we were today is a completely different story.

Watch this New York Times Video to see.

There are no piles of debris, but the people look just as tired and are just as cold and while they don’t own their apartments, they’ve too lost everything.

It’s in these areas-more populated by low-income black and Latino residences living in high rise projects-that you still don’t see news trucks or anchors covering the story, there’s no Red Cross Volunteers, there’s no FEMA. Just The OCCUPY folks and other volunteers who’ve come out either by car or on bicycle to do work in these poorer Far Rockaway communities.

Today we worked at a church on 38th and Broad Beach called St. Gertrude. We worked with a woman named Jane who was in from Washington State for the Marathon. She didn’t complain about missing the “opportunity of a life time” and instead said, “this is where I belong.” Here’s some coverage from the Occupy Sandy Facebook page from yesterday.

I’m coughing and sneezing grey debris, I’m exhausted, but tomorrow I’m taking a day off work to lend a hand again. I’m guessing there will be less people, as most New Yorkers will go back to their lives on Monday. Feeling continually blessed for my life, humbled by the experience, and amazed by people.


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