My last visit to Rockaway was in summer, when the sun shone over a boardwalk stretching forever into the rising light of day. Super Storm Sandy blew it away. The streets of Rockaway, hit by waves of water and sand, are a mess. The high water levels have only just gone down. I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Alice, pictured above. She was on her way to collecting her young daughter from school. I loved her lipstick and we talked about the healing powers of this magic potion combined with the fresh delicate fragrance of her perfume. She is keeping it together. She has to. "For my daughter!" Alice told me about the rising waters of the night Sandy hit the Rockaways, the destruction of which brought back memories of 9/11 for her. The cleaning and the clearing is a huge job. Bleach and Clorox, gloves and heavy plastic bags - there are never enough. Occupy Sandy has a mountain of clothes but winter is setting in. Food vans provide for locals otherwise shops and services are in the same flooded boat. This is New York, not as Leslie (not pictured) said some God forsaken war-torn zone in another part of the world where the US spends good money bombing the hell out of it. This is nature's war zone, how much worse it must be to live in one of paid spending for military destruction. Leslie was sweet, quietly spoken and grateful, as indeed was Alice, for the aid from strangers which is pouring in to Rockaway from various church groups, the Red Cross and Occupy Sandy. Alice and I parted with a very generous helping of blessings from her. On behalf of Alice, I pass them on to you.
Ouch. Such destruction, but you found a treasure. Alice!
She is indeed a treasure!
Hard to believe that a storm could do so much structural damage.
Hurricanes are not for turning!
and I thought it was bad enough where we were!
Really amazing shots. Of course I am into decay and abandonment – I love images like this. There is certainly something melancholy about them but there is also a strange beauty in your presentation in that these type of things remind us of the impermanence of all things and how powerless we actually are as human beings. The shots are also encouraging because the only response (in my opinion) can be, “let’s rebuild – create something new.” Thanks for your great work.
BTW I’ve got the Ramone’s ROCKAWAY BEACH bouncin’ round my head. 🙂 A fun “motivational” song in light of what’s happened.
Thank you MF! That song has also been bouncing around in my head, as has REM’s The End of the World . . .
Meanwhile out in Rockaway those waves are lapping upon the sands as though nothing ever happened!
That sums it up!
They’re great shots, Patti (particularly the last three), but how upsetting. I wonder what will come out of it. Something good I hope. Alice is beautiful. What a great looking person.
Thank you Richard and I am sure that with enough energy, effort and people like the lovely Alice order and comfort will be restored. The good is there and it is working away . . .
Thanks for many interesting series from the effects of Sandy. It is interesting to see such good documentary work. And love the smile in between it all..
Bente, thank you so much! I hope it all gets better soon . . .
Those pictures are so strong, depicting the devastations of the hurricane. It’s almost unbelievable, the forces of Mother Nature. Thanks for documenting the aftermath, it will be an important record in a historical sense, because of their strength as journalistic photographs.
Otto, thank you so much for your kind words and support!
I didn’t have my DSLR with me (someone else was using it that day) and I am pleased I didn’t. I used my iPhone to take these shots and a film camera to take others – the DSLR is such a greedy beast at times but with limited phone battery and film exposures I could only work with so much. Plus, as you say, the devastation is almost unbelievable but there was such an overwhelming sense of peace and calm that to go through those streets clicking here there and everywhere would, for me, have upset the balance.
It never fails to amaze me how Mother Nature can wipe out almost everythibg but the human spirit. Great pictures, as a;ways.
Thank you Tom. Who knew those innocent little waves had it in them!
the one force we will never be able to beat…
Mother Nature is always going to win these battles!
As all of these places begin the long process of rebuilding, I hope they’ll keep an eye on the future, and remember that no matter what they do, they’re still facing that big ocean. We don’t know when the next powerful storm will hit, but it surely will.
Great shots, Patti. Do you know if that American flag in the top photo was there before Sandy arrived? I wonder if it was put there by someone as a sign of hope.
And the Rockaways is such a flat, narrow piece of sand land facing that big ocean!
As for the flag, I looked through earlier shots which have flags here and there but the one in the first shot looks in much better shape than does the one further down. . . here’s to hope!
This is just… I mean…
there are no words Ms. K…
And this is just over two weeks later from the event that was Sandy!
Patti, I just hope people whose lives got affected will be back on track soon. Prayers for all those people.
Thank you Arindam – we hope so too! It is getting colder here . . .
Goodness, real destruction wasn’t it..brings to mind how much we are held in natures hands, no matter how tough or permanent our structures and systems can seem – and as you say, how strange and even more awful that we tear apart our own world ourselves with wars and such other terrible things..
We can make all the plans in the world but . . .
Hard to comprehend. This wreckage (and hope) through your eyes is incredibly powerful, Patti. This are amazing images.
Thank you Karen, it was such a shock to see the reality of what had up until then been images on television and in the newspapers.
unbelievable – and yet there is hope in the midst of destruction. bless you for sharing.
Thank you so much Kris!
I should stop cribbing about our cyclones. This is savage Patti.
Thank you for sharing the hope and beauty in the midst of all this chaos. Devastation always brings out the best in people.
Madhu, weather is personal and you feel free to crib about cyclones anytime! They sound worrying to me!
If there was a way to provide Rvers with a hook up site, there are many of us who would love the opportunity to go in and help them rebuild.
I admire the strength of the people living in the aftermath.
What a good idea Annie, let’s see what we can do!
Shit Super Storm Sandy!
You said it Frizz!
Excellent photo-journalism once more Patti.
Thank you Martin but I wish I had had more time out there when I took these photos, or rather, I wish I could get out there more often to offer some constructive help. I was out there again today (it’s a long story . . . )
Terrible Sandy, The place looks like a war zone I can`t beleive it sorry for the lost 🙂
Thank you Jake for your thoughts!
The devastation is incredible.
Two questions: How is Leslie getting on, and how does documenting all of this (which is important and should continue in the personal way you do it) affecting you emotionally?
Allan, I hope to see Leslie again so will keep you posted. As to how it is affecting me emotionally? Oh my God where to start with this one! To start with, it all makes me feel so small and ineffectual, wishing there were something more substantial I could do to help with the clean up. So many people from different parts of the country are working together to bring the infra-structure back to working order and still in some affected areas power remains out.
At the same time, here in the US the day after Thanksgiving, I am hearing about the Black Friday shopping rampages in the wild aisles of Walmart etc. It’s stuff, more stuff, all the time! But really, our needs are so simple. Food, shelter, safety and the interaction of personal relationships, to care and be cared for, and out there in the Rockaways, in the midst of all that still needs to be done, the human spirit endures. And for all the devastation out there I am overwhelmed at the sense of measured calm I feel when I am out there.
There are so many more photographs I want to take but what have I got to give?
As with 9/11, there are Canadians and others from all over sending aid and going down to physically help. Maybe your continual reporting on the cicumstances with real compassion is what you need to keep doing so that those who can help in other ways can be alerted.
It’s not that you’re not doing enough, Patti. You really are doing something beneficial. Keep at it.
Thank you so much Alan for your generous words of encouragement and how good to know that Canadian generosity is at work down here. Will keep you posted. And thank you so much again!
Telling the story IS constructive help. Do not be confused about this.
Also — novel idea just struck — in fact, WE are part of Mother Nature, inside her, intrinsic. She is not something apart from us. What an alteration might there be if we began to realize this?
The biophysics of life and the quest for domination! Your thought for realising alterations reminded me of a recent episode on a bus – an older man gave up his seat for me but before I could accept his kind offer another older man, closer to the seat swooped down and took the seat. There followed an altercation b/w the two. The first man was upset because he was offering it up to me, a woman, otherwise he would have stayed put. The second man’s attitude was that it wasn’t his to choose whom to give it up for, so bad luck both of us suckers! It went on, and on (as I am doing now!) and the second man eventually gave the seat to me.
How do we make the bigger changes necessary to accommodate the elementary forces of nature? Who is going to give up what?
In nature it’s easier, the bigger, the stronger, the more cunning, the more resourceful, the luckier wins, be they baboons or jackrabbits or insects or birds — Happens often enough in people, but more complicated by self-consciousness.
Self-consciousness is our grace and our curse, I suppose. And yet — what if we are intended to be the self-consciousness of nature? (There is a current in religious thought which recognizes something like this in the form of, we are intended to be the praise of God, or we are intended to be the hands of God, as in G.M. Hopkins) Your story ends with the second man eventually giving up the seat to you — why? Because you tromped on him? Because the first man tromped on him? Or because something in the situation got to him? Public opinion?
Who giving up what. A very big question. Does altruism exist apart from humans? Does it actually exist in humans? Does it exist in nature?
I was never very good at studying philosophy, or even being very interested in it. I don’t even like to look at unpleasant things. But I do know this, that what it is you do (like in this post) is Pay Attention. And the act of paying attention (as Colette said) is profound and meaningful. It changes things. Maybe that’s how we can change things — And if so, you are leading the way.
(Sorry for going on and on myself!!!!!)