Hurricane Sandy Photos: NYC, Breezy Point Devastated; Furious Debate Sparked, City Officials to Blame for Nursing Homes Left in Storm?
Hurricane Sandy has devastated the whole east coast in a way that no one ever thought it would. Two of these areas were the Rockaways and Breezy Point in New York City.
On Tuesday, Rockaway Beach residents returned to their homes, most of which were damaged because of fallen trees or the powerful high tides that flooded basements and first floors of many houses on Monday night.
According to YDR.com, residents began reliving the devastating effects from Sandy, a.k.a "Frankenstorm."
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"It was the beginning of high tide. The water started coming up through the slats with the waves," said Raymond Mitchell, who had an ocean view from his apartment. "Within minutes, it was pushing the boardwalk off. It was like a river coming down the street."
The boardwalk "ripped apart like dominoes," said Laura Nee, who watched from her apartment. "The water came up to the windows [in the building's lobby]."
Various transformer explosions created numerous fires that destroyed multiple homes and buildings. Firefighters weren't able to get to the blazes because of the flooded streets.
A few miles away in Breezy Point, a six-alarm fire destroyed 111 homes out of 2,800.
The New York Daily News reported that dozens of families returned to Breezy Point, a tight-knit community that resides on the end of the Rockaway peninsula, on Wednesday to access the damage.
Many were confronted with "scenes of utter devastation," with some of the burnt houses still smoldering from the heartbreaking fire.
"Everything was burning. It was like the apocalypse, Lt. Michael Scotko, 23, a volunteer firefighter in Breezy Point said. "The worst part of it was none of the fire hydrants worked."
"We could see it burning for about an hour and a half before we even got here," he said, noting the area was blocked due to high tides.
"This could have taken out all of Breezy."
Many Far Rockaway residents are starting to access damages in their homes as well, all that was in Zone A, a mandatory evacuation area. Everyone is without power, waiting for LIPA and Con Edison to restore power to their homes. However, the nursing homes in Rockaway are facing a slightly different dilemma, asking why they were not told to evacuate and why help came so late.
According to the Huffington Post, New York officials told the staff and residents of at least five nursing homes in advance to stay in the mandatory evacuation zone.
"As a result, hundreds of disabled, handicapped and elderly residents watched fearfully as one of the most severe storms in the city's history roared ashore, sending brackish water surging into the first floor of their buildings, flooding lobbies, basements and -- crucially -- backup power generators," the report said. "Inside, the water had torn apart interior walls. Sandbags that had been piled up outside were split open, their contents strewn about the lobby."
When asked why didn't they evacuate, an official at the Rockaway Care Center said, "Call the mayor's office. We were told to stay."
The Huffington Post said it confirmed two Rockaway nursing homes, Surside Manor and Lawrence Nursing Care Facility, were later evacuated to Brooklyn Technical High School. It wasn't clear what happened to the residents of other nursing homes, including Horizon Care Center and Rockaway Care Center.
"They should have gotten us out sooner," said Freddy, a resident at Lawrence Nursing Care, who didn't give his last name. "We had no lights. We were using flashlights. The first floor was flooded. The generator didn't work."
"The decision to keep residents in these facilities, even though the rest of the community was under a mandatory evacuation order, is sure to spark debate," Huffington Post said, and it looks like it is already starting to do that.
Some were sympathetic with the city's alleged decision to keep the nursing homes residents in the Zone A location.
"My Mom is in a memory care unit at a local nursing home. The process of moving every single resident to a high school is huge. There is so much to consider. Most of the residents have leg monitors attached to them so they can't slip out of a door. Some of them are completely bed ridden and actually need hoists to be lifted because they're so heavy. I'm sure it was scary for them. It was scary for everyone. There are some things that can't be prevented, and I don't think they necessarily were neglected. They may have thought leaving them in the home and evacuating the first floor was the lesser of 2 evils. let's wait and see," one Huffington Post commenter said.
Some agreed. However, most commenters were outraged by this news and wanted answers.
One Huffington Post commenter said, "I suppose Michael Bloomberg had his forces out ensuring that the rich and famous got evacuated. Why should he care about a group of elderly and ill people."
Another said, "You have to be kidding, though this is not a bit funny. The most vulnerable of the population living in an area requiring evacuation were NOT evacuated and were left to face Hurricane Sandy within blocks of the ocean? I want to know WHO didn't follow through with this manditory evacuation, and WHY these residents were not moved to safety!"
"I recall the Weather Channel in shock when they heard Mayor Bloomberg say to stay and wait this out," one commenter said.
One commenter asked, "Mandatory zone. Who told them to stay? That's the question." Yes it is indeed.
It seems that Rockaway may be getting left out of this whole devastating ordeal that has shook New York City.
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