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Entries in Hurricane Sandy (40)

Saturday
May252013

Damaged by Hurricane Sandy, the New York Aquarium Partially Reopens

iStockphoto(NEW YORK) -- New York City’s beaches officially open Saturday just months after being damaged by Superstorm Sandy. Another shoreline fixture, the New York Aquarium on Coney Island, is partially reopening, having been badly damaged by the storm.

The aquarium, which is a major money-maker for Coney Island, opened in 1957. The entire aquarium has been closed to the public since the October hurricane.

Part of the shore-front attraction remains closed for repairs, but a majority of the displays will be open to the public, according to Jon Forrest Dohlin, director of the New York Aquarium.

“All of our marine mammals will be on exhibit, our walruses, our sea lions, our harbor seals, our sea otters and our penguins will be out as well,” Dohlin said.

Dohlin told ABC News the storm killed so many fish the aquarium won't be able to fully re-open until 2016, as Sandy flooded tanks with water that was filled with debris, and backup power was knocked out to all exhibits

“We had some freshwater fish outside in outdoor ponds that were inundated with the salt water,” he said. “We lost those animals. That was quite a tragedy and there was a couple of large tanks that we could not get to quickly enough to stabilize.”

Still, the Aquarium is looking forward to re-opining, even if it’s only partial.

“We have a very important role in the economy of Coney Island and of Brooklyn writ large,” Dohlin explained. “We do about 58 million dollars of economic activity, we're a science education outreach juggernaut and we are a very important voice for marine conservation. So we decided it was important to get open in any way we could.”

 Dolhlin says the animals are looking forward to the reopening as well.

“The animals, I think, have missed the day-to-day rhythm of having the public here,” he said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan092013

Breezy Point, NY, Couple Surprised by Rebuilt Home After Sandy

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- New York resident Jeanne Metz never stopped praying.

“We never, ever felt that God would forsake us,” Metz told ABC News.

She and her husband, Burt Metz, lost their home in Breezy Point, part of New York City’s Queens borough, after it was completely ravaged by Hurricane Sandy in October.

When they returned to the property Wednesday, their prayers had been answered, and they found their home completely rebuilt.

“I’m just completely shocked,” Metz said. “We are so blessed and can’t thank those that did this for us enough. Thank you.”

The 80-year-olds have had the Breezy Point property for more than 30 years. They sold their primary residence in Brooklyn last year to help an ailing family member, and invested their life savings to upgrade the home for year-round living.  When the contractor died in August, the work was never completed.

Hurricane Sandy brought four feet of water into the home, making it unlivable.

“When you’re old, it’s tough,” Burt Metz said. “We didn’t know what we were going to do.”

That’s when Operation Blessing stepped in.

The Virginia-based humanitarian organization gathered 300 volunteers from around the country to rebuild the Metz’s home. The group has worked on more than 400 homes in Queens since the storm struck, but this was the first they completely rebuilt.

“We’ve never built a house like this,” U.S. Disaster Relief Director Jody Gettys said. “The Metz’s are so appreciative and truly an inspiring couple.”

Jeanne Metz, who’s a two-time cancer survivor, said she and Burt were staying with friends for the time being. They thought members of Operation Blessing were gutting the house and revealing a frame Wednesday.

“When we came down here today, we really thought we were going to discover an open shell, and we were going to figure out how to move forward,” Metz said. “We never ever dreamt anything of this magnitude could be completed in this timeframe.”

The project started in early December and cost tens of thousands of dollars.

As the couple toured their new home with their children and grandchildren, with tears in their eyes, they said the home is a fresh start.

“It’s beautiful. It’s unbelievable. It’s something you live for and pray for,” Burt Metz said. “The good Lord was with us.”

 

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec242012

Few Signs of Christmas in Sandy-Ravaged Rockaways

Linsey Davis/ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Aside from new basketball sneakers, TJ, Ricky and Maeve aren’t asking for too much this year.

They got power back a few weeks ago, and that superseded just about anything else they could have put on their wish lists to Santa.

On this, the night before Christmas, their street is anything but silent. The hum of generators fills the street. That’s what many of their neighbors are relying on to power appliances and light up the Christmas trees. According to the Long Island Power Authority, more than 10,000 customers in the Rockaways are still without power.

And while a white Christmas is unlikely this year, the kids on this street are still kicking around several inches of sand in their front yards. The sand, debris and downed power lines remain just as Sandy left those two months ago.

TJ, Ricky and Maeve live on a block with dozens of houses, but no one would guess it is Christmas from the looks of the street. Aside from two lonely wreaths hanging with garlands, the houses are more commonly adorned with unhinged doors, building permits and water marks.

But the 9-year-olds say they feel fortunate: They not only have power but Christmas trees, and they hope a visit from Santa will help them forget their last visitor — Sandy.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Dec082012

'Secret Sandy' Brings Christmas Presents to Hurricane Victims

Joy Huang(NEW YORK) -- Superstorm Sandy came just before the holidays destroying mostly everything in her path.

But she hasn't destroyed the Christmas spirit for those affected by her wrath.

Thanks to Secret Sandy, two women are making holiday wish lists a reality for families affected by the historic storm.

Co-founders Joy Huang and Kimberley Berdy created Secret Sandy, an online gift-giving exchange where donors can give anonymously by accessing the wish lists and needs of families through Amazon.

The concept was born days after the storm when Huang volunteered at St. Francis de Sales parish in Belle Harbor, one of the wrecked New York City neighborhoods on the Rockaway peninsula.

"After seeing the devastation, there were piles of cars just dead or in the middle of the street," said Huang. "I started asking myself how can I help? How can I help just one person? Two people? And then it spread."

Huang noticed inside the church there were donations of diapers, bleach, batteries and other bare necessities to clean up homes and take care of immediate emergencies.

"People just gave and gave and gave," said Huang. "We wanted to make sure that generosity extended though to the holidays."

In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, Huang and Berdy teamed up with City Harvest to brainstorm a gift-giving idea. Huang realized that many families did need the essentials, but said "kids still need to be kids."

Together, with their friends, Berdy and Huang created the website for Secret Sandy and launched the site the day before Thanksgiving. So far, the site has 2,100 registered volunteers and over 850 children and families who have asked for post-Sandy help this holiday season. Donations have come as far as the Netherlands.

"It's a new twist on an old theme," said Huang. "It's a modern take on something very traditional."

The way the site works is affected families that need Christmas help can download and mail in or fill out a letter to their Secret Sandy. Letters ask kids to answer questions like 'The thing that I miss most is...' and 'I hope that I'm soon able to...'

"I've read letters where a kid watched his Lego set float away," said Huang. "Another said he misses school and another simply wrote, 'I hope I will feel normal again.'"

"Every spare minute of my day is dedicated to making this happen, so when I'm up at 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. and I read a letter from some family and their son or daughter at age 4 or 5 says all they want is "normalcy" - the least I can do is try to help give them that for a few minutes because no child should have to want things to be normal at that age," said Berdy.

Also in the letter are four areas for kids to list items on their wish list with links to "moderately priced" items found on Amazon. Those letters are then distributed to donors and the wish list is shared among several donors.

"We ask that people are putting moderately priced items on their wish list because we want to be respectful to people who have open hearts," said Huang. "We can't assume they have open pockets."

Because Secret Sandy has a surplus of donors, many donors are asking if they can help without waiting for a wish list. Huang and Berdy are encouraging donors to purchase and send gift cards to the address found on the website.

"You get these very sad people who are just broken from this who say, 'I didn't have insurance,' 'FEMA denied us,' 'We lost our car,'" said Huang. "We're asking people to send in gift cards to Target, Home Depot and Loews so people can get necessities." This isn't the first instance where anonymous giving is helping those in need for the holidays. In Oregon, one secret angel paid off the lay away accounts of five individuals at a Toys 'R Us including a single mother of two. Earlier this week, the store saw another angel pay off the lay away balances of unsuspecting families.

"It's nice to see people are so generous and so kind and supportive to help people they don't know," said Huang.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov282012

NYC Mayor Pushes for Sandy Relief Funds in Washington

Michael Loccisano/FilmMagic(WASHINGTON) -- Trying to inject some urgency into getting new federal aid for victims of Hurricane Sandy, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg met with several lawmakers in Washington Wednesday.

"Our reception was very good. Everyone I met with understands the severity of the damage and the importance of helping," Bloomberg said after meeting with members of Congress.

New York State officials think Hurricane Sandy inflicted $42 billion worth of damage in the state, with nearly half of that in New York City.  Mayor Bloomberg hopes others will spring into action to help New York recover as they have in the past.

"America's come to New York's assistance before and I think New York has an admirable record in trying to come to assistance of other people around this country. We're all Americans. This is not a partisan thing," he said.

But one lawmaker calls it a "hard sell," especially since Congress is wrestling with the nation's budget. New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer says the appropriations requests should be substantial.

"We want the first to be as large as it can be, as large as the damage we know we already have…and that number will grow," Schumer said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov282012

Growers Seek Help Getting Christmas Trees to Sandy Victims

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Christmas tree growers Rob Brown and Don Hilliker had an idea: They would gather Christmas trees from their fellow New York farmers and send them to victims of Hurricane Sandy in New York City’s devastated Staten Island.

Friends and colleagues all agreed it was a great idea and the plan was a go, until Brown reached out to agencies on Staten Island to distribute the trees.  No one seemed to be able to help.

“Right after the hurricane, I called down to the Staten Island Fire Department,” Brown told ABC News.  “I tried two or three times.  But for a while they had no power.  Later, I tried again and was referred to the disaster relief down there.  I was tossed around between several people but was never told anything except that it was a good idea.”

Brown, who has farms in Norfolk, N.Y., understood that Christmas trees were the last thing on relief workers’ minds.

“I didn’t know anyone down there.  I thought I was talking to the right people, but they were just overwhelmed,” said Brown, who’s now in the middle of the busy holiday season.

Brown and Hilliker are longtime members of the Christmas Tree Farmers’ Association of New York.  They have a network of growers to supply the trees for free, and many of them have already agreed to help.  They already pitch in for the annual Trees for Troops program which ships Christmas trees around the globe to members of America’s armed forces.

One association member, Kay Moore, of Groton, N.Y., said she thought Brown and Hilliker had a great idea.

“When we learned what happened down in New York City, we knew we’d help in any way,” Moore told ABC News.  “All growers feel for those who might not be able to have a proper Christmas this year.  If we can help make sure a family has a happier Christmas, we’re going to do it.”

Despite the roadblocks, Brown said he believes his evergreens could make a difference.  If word gets out, he says, the Christmas trees will reach Staten Island.

“I heard over 2,000 had lost their homes and everything else they had and, come Christmas, it’d be nice for these people to have a fresh, green Christmas tree during the holidays.  We just need someone on the ground who’s willing to distribute them,” he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov142012

Long Island Power Authority Head Resigns Amid Sandy Criticism

Long Island Power Authority(NEW YORK) -- The head of the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) is stepping down amid widespread criticism of the company in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.

In a statement Tuesday, LIPA Chairman Howard Steinberg said Mike Hervey's resignation as chief operating officer will be effective at the end of the year.  Hervey has been with the company for 12 years.

LIPA has received much flack for its slow response in restoring power to more than a million customers after Sandy struck the area on Oct. 29.  As of Wednesday morning, more than 8,000 customers still remain in the dark.

The company said on Tuesday that it had restored power to 99 percent of customers who are able to safely receive power.  But for about 35,000 others who are in flooded areas, customer repairs will need to be done first before LIPA can turn their lights back on.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov122012

Children of Couple Killed by Sandy to Benefit from $50K in Donations

Courtesy Wish Upon a Hero(NEW YORK) -- Zoe Everett said she was sitting in her Rutgers dorm room studying for a test on the night superstorm Sandy blew into the East Coast and changed her life.

"Before Hurricane Sandy I was a typical 19-year-old student at Rutgers," Zeo Everett wrote in a post on Wish Upon a Hero's website.  "But then came October 29th.  I was studying for an exam, waiting out Hurricane Sandy and then I received a phone call.  At 11pm on October 29th, I found out both of my parents had been killed."

Everett, 19, the oldest sibling of the Everett family of Randolph, N.J., wrote that her parents, Rich and Beth Everett, were killed by a falling tree on the night Sandy hit the East Coast.

According to news reports, the Everetts were driving home in their pickup truck with their two youngest children from the horse farm the family ran, after checking on the horses as the storm approached.  A gust from Sandy blew a 100-foot-tall tree onto the cab of the truck, killing both of her parents.  Her brothers made it out with minor injuries.

"I finally made it to the hospital in the morning after battling with Hurricane Sandy all night. I  was no longer your typical 19-year-old.  A moment in time, a second of bad luck, changed my life and my sibling's lives forever," she wrote on Wish Upon a Hero.  Everett's siblings are ages 17, 14, and 11.

Employees at the website heard about the Everett family's tragedy from a friend of Everett's.  The website, based in Vorhees, N.J., is a "social helping network," according to founder Dave Girgenti, where people can post their wishes and a description of why they are deserving of donations, and others can donate.

The network sprang into action.

"She's overwhelmed, not only just with losing your parents, but you don't even know where to begin.  She's 19 years old, trying to go to college, and now has the burden of being both mom and dad with three siblings to take care of," Girgenti said.

The staffers, who had never met or spoken with Everett, posted a description of her and her siblings' plight, asking for $5,000 to help the New Jersey siblings buy food and pay bills while they settle their parents' affairs.

Within 24 hours the site had raised more than $50,000.

"We didn't realize we were going to raise this much money," Girgenti said.

Everett and her siblings declined to be interviewed for this article, but she said in a statement that the family was grateful for the generosity.

"On behalf of my siblings and myself, I would like to express our sincerest thanks for the overwhelming support and generosity shown to us.  Wish Upon a Hero has raised funds for my family that have exceeded our wildest dreams," she said.  "The donations have ensured our well-being for the next few months and will hold us over until we are able to access our own funds."

Everett said the children would strive to be as "benevolent and giving" as their parents, and so they would not accept any further donations.

"My family's needs have been met.  We would like to draw attention and further donations to other individuals whose needs have not yet been met," she said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov092012

New York City, Long Island Impose Gas Rationing System

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- New York City and Long Island drivers will have to check their license plates before attempting to get in line for gas in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy.

Beginning Friday morning, drivers with license plates ending in an even number will only be able to fill up their tanks on even-numbered days; those with license plates ending in an odd number can get gas on odd days.  Vehicles with license plates ending in a letter or other character will be able to buy gas on odd-numbered days.

Commercial vehicles, emergency vehicles, buses and paratransit vehicles, Medical Doctor (MD) plates and vehicles licensed by the Taxi and Limousine Commission are exempt from the gas rationing system.

"Last week’s storm hit the fuel network hard -- and knocked out critical infrastructure needed to distribute gasoline,” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Thursday.  “Even as the region’s petroleum infrastructure slowly returns to normal, the gasoline supply remains a real problem for thousands of New York drivers."

With more than 500,000 customers still living without power in the region, many also need the fuel to keep generators running in these frigid temperatures.

"We have to do something," Bloomberg said.  "This is practical and enforceable and a lot better than doing nothing."

"I think that makes sense.  I think that should have started from the beginning.  I think it would have eased up, and you wouldn't of had this these long lines," a Queens, N.Y., driver told ABC News affiliate WABC-TV.

The long lines for gas are eerily reminiscent of the dark days of the 1979 energy crisis under President Jimmy Carter -- the last time a gas rationing system was put in place.

Officials said something needed to be done so everyone -- both drivers and people using gas to fuel generators -- can have their chance at a fair share.

"This is designed to let everybody have a fair chance, so the lines aren't too oppressive and that we can get through this," Bloomberg said.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie implemented a rationing system shortly after the demand for fuel became too great.  Christie has said that the new rules have curbed lines from more than three hours to under an hour.

The rationing system comes two days after a nor'easter blew through the area, knocking out power to those who just got it back from superstorm Sandy.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov082012

iPhone Photo of Hurricane Sandy Makes the Cover of 'Time'

Time Magazine(NEW YORK) -- When superstorm Sandy was approaching, New York photojournalist Ben Lowy, 33, didn’t grab his high-end camera equipment. He grabbed his iPhone 4S, put it in his pocket, and headed out on assignment for Time magazine.

Time sent out a handful of photographers with iPhones to capture the storm, but it was Lowy’s photo that made the cover of the Nov. 12 issue. “The photo was taken on Coney Island,” Lowy told ABC News. “I was watching the waves come in and I went into the surf about waist deep and waited for some crazy waves to come along.”

The photo was taken with just the iPhone 4S -- no lens accessories. Lowy did use Hipstimatic, an application that lets you add effects to photos. Lowy actually created his own photojournalism lens pack in the app with the help of the company.

Apps like that and the great optics of the iPhone make him feel comfortable leaving his higher end camera equipment at home now, he said. “I used to not feel confident, but I definitely do feel that way now.” His one complaint about the iPhone is poor image quality in low light. Apple has tried to improve that with the iPhone 5; Lowy hasn’t yet upgraded to one.

Lowy has been shooting with his iPhone since 2010.  He shot a series of photos in Libya for The New York Times Magazine and the political conventions for The New Yorker.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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