My friend Barbara and I walked to the beach from the bay along Beach 124th Street during a tearful visit to our friends Lisa and Allison today. Two blocks before the beach, the sand begins to pile up and gets up to three feet deep by the time you get to the end of the beach block. On the way, large chunks of the boardwalk the size of decks and terraces are strewn on what were once manicured lawns and cars were tossed like toys upside-down in driveways and in front of homes, alongside buildings and the seawall along the bay. Streets are lined with debris and the waterlogged contents of residents’ basements, garages and other flooded areas of their homes.
I was conceived in Rockaway Beach, born in Far Rockaway, and lived the first eight months of my life in Belle Harbor before moving to Laurelton, Queens for eight years and later Howard Beach for another eight years until I moved out on my own at 17 in 1977. Much of my childhood and teenage years were spent on these beaches, bobbing up and down in the salty sea like a pickle in brine. This is the place of my origin. It is my home. It breaks my heart to see it torn and tattered, chewed up and spit out like splintered flotsam from the mouth of an insatiable Leviathan. I know that one day soon I will see it rebuilt and restored. My heart goes out to my friends and family and everyone who have lost loved ones to and have had to endure this terrible disaster whose name is bitterly left behind painted on plywood and banners – and physically blanketed throughout the once resplendent coastal communities of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. One day soon, these seaside towns will sparkle in the sun.