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As Rockaway residents struggled to clean their homes and belongings, find food and stay warm, frustration continued to mount Sunday during the sixth day the area was without power with no end in sight.
“I haven’t cried yet, but that’s coming, trust me. I’m still in shock right now,” said Michael Haywood, a career services director who lives in Far Rockaway, as he stood in the doorway of his flooded house on Seagirt Boulevard near Beach 27th Street.
Outside a makeshift clothing drive had been set up along the curb, and fellow Rockaway residents picked through coats, shoes, jeans and T-shirts. By 4 p.m., a box marked “Cleaning Supplies” had already been emptied.
Nearby on Beach 32nd Street, tenant Eric Curtis shoveled debris out of a garage as his landlord and a fellow tenant worked to pump water from several basements. Curtis said he and his girlfriend had been floating on top of an air mattress in his first-floor apartment when his neighbor and another man pushed open the front door to rescue them.
He said Far Rockaway needed more help.
“If it wasn’t for the homeowners and the people who live down here, this place would be worse than what it is now,” Curtis said. “We need some lights, we need some people to come up here and pick up this rubbish.”
Farther down on Beach 36th Street, Filipp and Nadia Maximenko navigated along the broken boardwalk to photograph where the famed walkway split in half. Streets near the beach were covered in a thick layer of sand and fire hydrants were half buried.
Near Beach 46th Street, Charmaine Felix and Ronald Adams bagged loads of garbage and pointed out a huge crack in the concrete of their flooded basement. Felix, who owns a computer shop near Beach 114th Street which burned down during Sandy, said she now sleeps under two duvets to stay warm.
Nearly every street was lined with piles of furniture, mattresses and other wrecked items in Rockaway. Several residents mentioned a 6 p.m. curfew in the area, with one man saying, “You don’t want to be around here after that anyway.”
On Beach 84th Street, outside the Hammel Houses, volunteers from New York Cares unloaded a truck of water and food brought in by the National Guard as Rockaway residents waited in line to charge their phones and other electronics.
And near Beach 114th Street – where several blocks of businesses were severely damaged by fire - volunteers from the Occupy Wall Street movement handed out platefuls of rice, vegetables and meat by flashlight as the sun set.
By 5:45 p.m., the area was plunged into darkness, punctuated by pockets of bright light from NYPD light towers. Residents and volunteers used flashlights and lights fitted to head wear to illuminate their paths through the blackened streets.
Haywood hoped to head into Midtown Manhattan for work Monday morning as a respite from his surroundings but was unsure how he would event get there.
“I feel so helpless. I’ve never felt like this a day in my life and I’m 55 years old,” he said. “And I understand there is another storm coming.”
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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