Fleeing Sandy’s Wrath: A Personal Tale

Tony’s Pier Restaurant is one of City Island’s causalities from Superstorm Sandy.
Photo by Patrick Rocchio

As someone who has lived a good part of my life on City Island, I’ve seen storms come and go.

I weathered Hurricane Gloria as a wee lad in 1985 (all I can remember is masking tape on windows) to Hurricane Irene in 2011.

I thought I could ride out any storm, with Superstorm Sandy no different.

But for the first time, the entire island was declared an A evacuation zone.

I began making plans to leave shortly after noon Sunday, Oct. 28.

Shortly after Mayor Bloomberg called for evacuation, people were wheeling suitcases down the street. Neighbors were loading up a SUV as fast as they could. I moved to a family member’s house in Country Club.

I worked Monday morning, reporting on the approaching Sandy in Harding Park with Councilwoman Annabel Palma. Working Tuesday afternoon on the storm’s impact got my mind off thinking about what it might have done to my home.

A cop who had encouraged people to evacuate City Island on Sunday told me of one woman who said that if the floodwaters came up high, she could always go to her attic.

Given the tragic destruction on Staten Island and in the Rockaways, those words later hit home.

Of course, as I was wading in water up to my ankles along a street in Harding Park, it began to dawn on me that this storm was going to be a lot different than Hurricane Irene.

Displacement is never an easy thing, but I made the best of it, and was only in a C Evacuation Zone, a major improvement. Even without cable or other comforts of home, it was nice spending time with a family member.

I could get Facebook on my cell phone. I saw photos of Tony’s Pier Restaurant burning, uploaded by fellow City Islander and Senator Jeff Klein staffer John Doyle.

If firefighters hadn’t gotten that blaze under control, it could have spread to nearby businesses and houses. I thought of my life-long friend Andrew, a very brave firefighter in Manhattan.

In the days that followed, it appeared the damage to the island was relatively minor, aside from Tony’s Pier and the loss of what we are calling in the office “Larry the Lobster” – a giant neon lobster on top of the Lobster House on Bridge Street. That – and many docks and wooden jetties were lost, as well as people’s dream boats that broke loose from their moorings.

It took a week for another friend, Seth, to get power back at his apartment at the Pickwick Terrace on the eastern end of Pilot Street.

Luckily, damage to my home was minimal, just some tiles blown off the roof and a giant tree branch down in front.

Sadly, some people in Harding Park lost their homes.

But absent the death and destruction seen elsewhere, Bronx folks living in Zone A’s like City Island and parts of Locust Point, Throggs Neck, Edgewater Park, and Harding Park escaped fairly unscathed.

But I’m sure they are rethinking their relationship with nature.

People will never again say “No, that can’t happen here in the Bronx, in New York.”

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at procchio@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3393

Patrick Rocchio of the CNG’s Bronx Times Reporter and Bronx Weekly.
Photo by Bob Kappstatter

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