Hurricane Sandy Is New York's Katrina

Floods, fear, and FEMA failures

This recovery station has been around, in one form or another, since the day after Sandy hit New Dorp, more than a week before the massive FEMA camp was erected on Miller Field.

It was set up by members of the Hallowed Sons, a Bay Ridge motorcycle club that crossed the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge that first night to check on the family of one of the club members and never left.

In a far corner of the parking lot this Sunday, Bobby Hansen is lying on his back underneath his 2007 Harley-Davidson Sportster, working on changing a tire wrecked after he drove his bike through floodwaters and over building debris. Hansen is wearing a week's worth of white stubble, glasses, and a soiled gray waffle tee and black jeans, with a seven-inch knife sheathed on his belt. Speaking in a slurred staccato, Hansen recalls the scene when the club first arrived.

A family searches through the remains of their Breezy Point home, destroyed in a massive fire during Hurricane Sandy. Slideshow: After Sandy, the On-Going Recovery
C.S. Muncy
A family searches through the remains of their Breezy Point home, destroyed in a massive fire during Hurricane Sandy. Slideshow: After Sandy, the On-Going Recovery
Nastaran Mohit, a labor organizer, led one of the early drives to assess the medical needs of stranded residents in the eastern Rockaways. Slideshow: After Sandy, the On-Going Recovery
C.S. Muncy
Nastaran Mohit, a labor organizer, led one of the early drives to assess the medical needs of stranded residents in the eastern Rockaways. Slideshow: After Sandy, the On-Going Recovery

"When we first rode in, we were like, 'Holy shit!'" he says. "Everything was flooded. There was debris everywhere."

By Tuesday morning, the waters had receded, and the Hallowed Sons had set up camp in the Oceanside Park, serving food and sending teams out with residents to their small, single-family homes to remove wreckage and junk out of the ruined basements and first floors. On a bedsheet they spray-painted the words "Hallowed Sons MC, Just Ask for Help." Aside from the shell-shocked residents, they were the only people on the scene.

Some of the homes in New Dorp were completely destroyed in the storm surge; others are still standing but ruined. The Hallowed Sons kept the food coming and worked with residents to canvass the neighborhood, checking on the homebound, assessing property damage, finding out what people needed and getting it to them.

In the process, the Hallowed Sons became the de facto recovery operation in New Dorp. With no one else on the ground, volunteers from unaffected parts of Staten Island, Manhattan, and as far away as Ohio made their way to New Dorp and attached themselves to the motorcycle club.

Hansen and the other Hallowed Sons brought a biker's swagger and a certain lawless initiative to their relief work.

After their recovery station's food stocks were raided one night during the first week ("Mexicans," Hansen opines), the gang suspended a warning hangman's noose over their operation and posted Hansen, complete with his menacing Crocodile Dundee knife, to stand guard overnight next to an illegal bonfire.

When the nor'easter battered the neighborhood all over again 10 days after Sandy, residents found themselves trapped, without means of evacuation. Hansen, a 15-year veteran of the MTA, found a public bus idling on high ground.

"I told the driver, 'You want to be fucking useful? There are people down there who need to get out of here,'" Hansen says. "I made him go down and get people to a safe place."

Perhaps because they were literally the only recovery operation in the neighborhood, police tolerated the bike club's presence in the park until, the following week with the nor'easter approaching, they told them they'd have to move. Unfazed, the Hallowed Sons moved across the street to a flooded-out storefront, commandeering the space over the objections of both the property owner and the cops.

They cleaned out the space and ran their operation from the storefront for several days until the landlord started to demand rent. Hansen couldn't believe it.

"I told him, 'I just became clairvoyant,'" Hansen recalls. "I said, 'My two crystal balls'"—he gestures to his crotch—"'are telling me you're gonna regret this. Four thousand people in the neighborhood are gonna know you threw us out. You might have an accident, step on a nail or something, and when you do, you better not come to us for help.'"

After the loss of their squat, the Hallowed Sons are now running their operation from a third location, a nearby parking lot. Hansen is clearly exhausted. He's also broke and verging on homelessness. He's spent his unemployment checks buying supplies for New Dorp residents, and the landlord of the Bay Ridge building where he works as a super is tired of Hansen neglecting his duties in favor of hurricane relief.

But for the moment at least, Hansen is undaunted. He feels good about the work he's doing, and it is not without its perks. "Look at this," he says, pointing to the cell phone that will be disconnected for nonpayment in the next week. It's a string of text messages from Lillian, a woman about 30 years younger than Hansen who lives far away and has never met him but was moved by a press account of his storm relief.

"This girl says she wants to marry me!" Hansen says with pride. But he's more impressed with Lillian's other token of appreciation, tendered in a currency close to Hansen's biker heart: a photograph of herself hoisting her naked breasts in salute.

The lot where the Hallowed Sons are now set up belongs to A Very Special Place, a local nonprofit that trains and employs people with mental disabilities. A Very Special Place was devastated by the storm—the café where they employed many of their clients is shuttered, their offices down by the water are ruined, and more than 150 people dependent on the organization were totally displaced, says Diane Buglioli, the group's head.

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25 comments
kc10710
kc10710

New York will be up and running better than before in a couple of years. 9th Ward STILL has hand-painted street signs.

kc10710
kc10710

Super Storm Sandy is NOTHING compared to Hurricane Katrina. Yes, both devastating but can not be compared to each other. Katrina was catastrophic.

coachd
coachd

NICK PINTO    NOV 25 2012

 

Please publicize the fact that today, still, people on Far Rockaway Beach 51st Street still do

 NOT have recieved clothing.

Tthe big shipment of clothing that came before the weekend was  stored overnight in a large Warehouse.

Which was burglarized during the night, leaving the  place EMPTY !!  

A friend who lives on Beach 51st still does not have warm coats for her three kids!

 

People also do NOT have food. 

My acquaintance was punched in the face  as she stood  on the line for food a day ago, at her own building on Beach 51st street.!!

And there are no stores to buy food from !!

 

On the other hand please also publicize that the Community Church of the Nazarene, on

 1414 Central Ave, has been heroically creating  meals for thousands, while the big organizations do little...

 

This past Thanksgiving Holiday, as well as today, on Sunday, The Church got the cooperation

of B'nai Jeshurung Congregation , from the Upper West Side; and MASBIA, a wonderful organization that feeds the needy, From Brooklyn,

 

The food  that MASBIA prepared - paid for by donation to B;nai Jeshurun - was ferried to the Church of the NAZARENE by BJ volunteers.

 

And, again, the big organizations whose job it is to fee the victims did nothing.

 

Thank You.

 DP

fffghyhjmnnm
fffghyhjmnnm

It's one of the best articles I've read in a while, but I agree the headline comes across as trolling for a click which is something I see increasingly here. I'm not going to get hung up on it, still liked the article, but this was not Katrina. I think it's a poor way to sell a great article.

DavidNutzuki
DavidNutzuki

HELP OUR PLANET COULD BE ON FIRE MAYBE?

 

Yup it's just like Bush's Katrina but this time it's not Obama's fault its OUR fault because WE angered the weather gods.......we must pay and feel bad about it. Isn't Liberal guilt fun?

 

Libs think so highly of themselves that they think they can push the powers of Nature around and control the weather but we all know weather isn't the same as climate :)

 

Libs have leaders who promise to make the weather nicer and colder with taxes.

 

Climate Change is NOT a crisis until the scientists start saying it “IS” and “WILL” be a crisis, not just “MIGHT” and “COULD BE” a crisis. Real planet lovers welcome the good news of exaggeration of the “crisis”.

 

Not one IPCC warning is NOT peppered in “maybes”

 

stanchaz
stanchaz

I place the whole damn blame for Hurricane Sandy

squarely on the slouching shoulders of Pat Robertson. 

Hmm .....where have I heard THAT line before?

Well, never mind.

Obviously, it was only a matter of time

 ...before God, in her inscrutable wisdom,

got really really really pissed off at Pat Robertson

for having the gall, the sheer arrogance, 

of claiming to speak for her ...

just babbling at the mouth,

time and time again.

A direct pipeline to the Almighty!

God did this, God told me. God loves that, God wants this. 

Hey, like it was ENOUGH already!

Trust me. Sandy was her way of saying:

Shut the F**K UP Pat!

And no one ever said that she was a just God, did they?

Just look around .

You don't need me to tell you that.

Just drop a few coins in the collection plate as you leave.

 

 

harveyharv1
harveyharv1

was a planned attack  Hurricane Sandy ....just ask James Bond .. what happened was man made .. guess it sounds far fetched .. but if u saw any one of the James Bond movies .. u know it can happen this is an planned attack ..no prove but i'm watching too many movies ..  right.   Village Voice is the best newsletter & paper to read 

srjmsbnd
srjmsbnd

I don't read articles and stories I read contextually many stories and the real story behind this storey is not in this article but revealed in "How Good Are Brooklyn's Japanese Noodle Spots? BY ROBERT SIETSEMA" which was posted on or about the same time by the same Village Voice in the same city run by the same bunch of corrupt half witted conceited political hacks that got people settle for as the same lesser of evils!

 

There is no American society that collapsed and never recovered with the Johnstown Pa floods the largest manmade disasters ever created, or Katrina another largest manmade disaster ever created, like the Earthquake which collapsed the elevated section of the Los Angles freeway  from which America should have gotten a wake up call for new leadership. Leadership that changes the same of means that this two-party police state operates.

 

So if you reactionary dupes ever catch on and have real need for a new and fresh perspective not under the control of your local neighborhood Gestopo Snitch and agent development administration you know where to cal as what you have found so far is not the solution it is the problem.

suelord
suelord

The reference to Katrina is sheer ignorance. I live on the Jersey Shore and the response is nothing short of incredible.

Lives were lost and this photo is a joke. Perhaps the epitome of bad taste.

cryptocahawban
cryptocahawban

This might be the most offensive connection EVER. Do you know that the Katrina death toll is over EIGHTEEN HUNDRED people? And a whole region is still recovering 7 years later? Shame on you.

grrlapoet
grrlapoet

@CarrieM213 @macfathom its not linking to the page

Lussenpop
Lussenpop

@bbierschbach Nertz. But not unexpected. I'll pour out a totally unfair pitcher for you.

Lussenpop
Lussenpop

@bbierschbach Also, you are sweet. Thanks for sharing it.

Lussenpop
Lussenpop

@bbierschbach Paddling back from the Island of Lost Minneapolites in a few hours ...

ParableJean
ParableJean

@rdevro I am so grateful to live in Florida. If struck by a hurricane at least I won't be cold. Hugs to all the heroes helping up there

rebecca611
rebecca611

Great article Nick.  I believe I met you at St. Gertrudes a couple of weeks ago.  Captures perfectly what is going on down there.

lynnredgrave
lynnredgrave

@coachd after distruction of sandy my friends start working with a website and he made 7800$ month..here is website .. FLY38.ℂOM

knightryder7
knightryder7

 @suelord

 It might have been incredible for you Sue, but what's incredible is the fact that Fema and the Red Cross was invisible for weeks in other areas. I'll bet you watch Jersey Shores because you're mindless. This article is spot on. I have many friends and relatives living in those areas and the only help they got was themselves and volunteers for weeks. Twit. .

bobbyblue
bobbyblue

 @suelord When the cops start shooting at you for for trying to find food to feed your family, when you are the only one left defending your house against burglars, when dead people are left in the gutters and in the attics, when the president decides it's more important to eat cake than to take care of a drowning city, and he, unlike presidents before him, refuses to put relief in place before the flood, then bungles it badly after, when you are driven out of your house by troops, when you are forced to walk through knee deep water for miles to a "pick up area", then told "no, it's not here, it's over there", when it is weeks before utilities are restored, when it takes months to get compensation for damages, then you have to haggle over every dime, and they still lose your paper work, THen, you can compare it to Katrina

knightryder7
knightryder7

 @cryptocahawban

 That has nothing to do with the article being offensive. It only proves my point further. Even after several years the government still hasn't done its job. They're both terrible tradgedies none the less. Counting of bodies doesn't make it worse. Tragic for the people of Louisiana too. I been down there a few times, what a shame.  

srjmsbnd
srjmsbnd

 @cryptocahawban nice guilt trip of a political rationale and excuse you got there as American in its anti-socialist, anti-communist, anti-government, prop-privatized, back to the future acid space walk is quite unprepared for any sort of disaster, war so:

 

I don't care what your idiot sense of decorum, civility and aesthetics is but I have not heard you say a damn thing worth hearing as it i heartbreaking to watch from a distance people struggling in the Rockaways of what has become an the ass backwards state of Bourgeoistan with jerks like you yapping.

 

Say what you like about all the communists that got elected in America before Reagan the Bushes Reagan The Clintons and Obama made Nixon look liberal so go to hell.

knightryder7
knightryder7

 @suelord

 I have a job and a nice home overlooking Puget sound, idiot. What does having a job have to do with my response to you? Just goes to show you DON'T read an article thoroughly. If you actually did your homework you'd know that NO HELP has come in many areas and people are suffering.

 
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