Sheepshead Bay residents came together Wednesday to bring light to the memory of a devastating day.
More than 40 locals and elected officials gathered at “Light the Shore,” the second-annual Sandy memorial, at Baron De Kalb Knights of Columbus in Sheepshead Bay on Oct. 29. Residents held candles and listened to traumatic testimonies of experiences during the superstorm.
One longtime local said he hopes the haunting memories of Sandy stops developers from building in flood-impacted zones.
“For us in the Sandy zone, we know the difference between some minor flooding and having the Atlantic Ocean over for dinner,” said Steve Barrison, president of the Bay Improvement Group, who was one of several speakers. “Sandy was a game-changer — whether or not big real estate or our government wants to accept that reality.”
Some elected officials used to evening to push policy. State Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge) said the construction of flood gates in the hardest hit areas should be a top priority — though he acknowledged swift construction is unrealistic.
“We need flood gates — flood gates in Manhattan Beach, flood gates in Gerritsen beach, flood gates in Coney Island Creek, flood gates in Howard Beach,” said Golden. “If you think that they’re going to build a flood gate in Brooklyn and Queens, your children children’s will have children before that is built.”
But for some residents, the night was about remembering the past rather than looking to the future. Several attendees nodded their heads or wiped eyes when officials said the government let down Sandy survivors after the storm.
After a handful of speeches, three religious leaders — a priest, a rabbi, and a minister — shared scripture and blessed a wreath that was tossed into the bay to symbolize a new beginning. One local said the religious representatives made community members of all faiths feel welcome and remember the day that changed everyone’s lives forever.
“All three made sure to be very inclusive so that no one felt left out,” said Bruce Rothman, a community activist. “It was very nice.”