Exactly one year after superstorm Sandy struck, hundreds of Brooklynites gathered in candlelight vigils along Kings County’s coast in the neighborhoods the epic storm hit hardest.
From Gerritsen Beach, to Coney Island, to Red Hook, survivors of the storm came together on Oct. 29 to remember.
Sheepshead Bay resident Karen Jennings came with her 4-year-old daughter Khloe, and recalled her shock when she realized that Sandy was different from Hurricane Irene that struck the year before.
“To us, Irene was a bad storm, and that was it,” she said. “Sandy was more catastrophic than we thought it would be. We didn’t think it would be that bad, so we still stayed until the water came up to the first house my block. It was up to my knees, so we decided to go.”
In Coney Island, Maggie Laborn stood vigil with her own daughter at Steeple Chase Pier, and remembered the moment a year ago when her mother called and she realized that the news wasn’t on the TV, but was creeping up her driveway.
“We were in the house, we were watching the news, and we got a call from my mother, and she said, ‘we have water coming up our driveway.’ So I looked outside and sure enough, there was water creeping up our driveway, too,” said Laborn.
In Gerritsen Beach, Lisa Walker stood in a spot on Gerritsen Avenue where the water was chest high last year, and recalled how her car was destroyed when she tried to flee with her family.
“Lois avenue was a river,” said Walker. “Literally a rushing river, and it just swept my car. I had the dog, the cat, my 11-year old, 14-year old, my 18-year old, and we were trapped.”
Walker remembered how cut off she felt after returning to the refuge of her home on the high ground of Beacon Court and looking out the window, where she could see distant Breezy Point burning in the night.
“We knew Breezy was burning, we could see it, and we had family there,” she said. “I couldn’t get in my car to check on my family in Rockaway, I couldn’t turn on the TV.”
The mood Tuesday was decidedly more festive in Red Hook, where the neighborhood took the “New Orleans” approach to commemorating tragedies with parades and marching bands.
“We had the Barnacle Parade, which was a sort of connect the dots between the bars,” said Carolina Salguero, Founder and Director PortSide NewYork, who lives off the coast off Red Hook in the Mary Whalen boat.
“There were people feeling sad and angry,” said Salguero. “But the people who were out on the street were taking the approach of feisty good humor, and there was a lot of love.”