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The Rockaway community still waits for its share of federal aid after Mayor Michael Bloomberg visited Washington, D.C., last week to lobby for relief funds. Bloomberg said he met leaders from both houses of Congress and both parties to describe the recovery efforts and explain why the city needs $9.8 billion, backing Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s request for $42 billion in federal relief aid for the state.
“Our reception was very good — everyone we talked to understands the severity of the hurricane damage and the need to help,” the mayor said.
While Bloomberg said the reception in Washington was good, the same could not be said for the mayor’s reception on a Rockaway beach Sunday, when close to 300 residents and activists rallied on the sand near Beach 86th Street to declare their opposition to the mayor’s statement that he wants all boardwalks in the Rockaways rebuilt with concrete.
Residents, including John Cori, co-founder of Friends of Rockaway Beach, believe rock jetties helped to stave off complete devastation.
As conditions in Rockaway changed from the storm, so did the lives of the peninsula’s pets. A clinic in Far Rockaway was knocked temporarily out of commission with minor damages, but was restored within days.
“There was a lot of devastation,” said Dr. John Charos, chief operating officer of CVA and lead coordinator for the New York City Veterinary Emergency Response Team and Animal Planning Task Force. “There is a lot of need out there and we have taken a lot of animals in since the storm.”
The group has been providing relief in hard-hit areas, including the Rockaways, where Charos said some residents were taking in animals who would have otherwise been left stranded or needed to be put to sleep.
“The community there is phenomenal,” Charos said. “Everyone is working together.”
Residents in Rockaway neighborhoods wrecked by the storm are also dealing with sinkholes. A large sinkhole appeared on Beach 67th Street after the storm, between Jorge Howard’s residence and a neighbor’s house.
Howard said the sinkhole is closer to his neighbor’s house and she had better check the foundation.
“I can’t worry about that right now,” Howard said of the hole, which measured close to 6 feet wide. “I’m trying to make my house livable again. That hole is on my neighbor’s property and it looks like it goes right under her house. She better check the foundation.”
The seemingly endless road to recovery continues for the storm-battered Rockaways and now drivers will have to fork over some cash to help residents navigate that road.
Toll collections resumed Saturday at two bridges leading in and out of the peninsula, as the MTA reinstated tolls at the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge, linking the Rockaways with the rest of Queens, and at the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge, linking the peninsula with Brooklyn.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo had suspended tolls Nov. 4, as the loss of train service after Superstorm Sandy made traveling difficult for residents and volunteers alike. The car tolls are $3.25 cash or $1.80 with E-ZPass.
A spokeswoman for state Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Ozone Park) said the assemblyman advocated to have the tolls removed following the storm and that he would like to see them removed permanently.
“Assemblyman Goldfeder has been the champion to completely eliminate the tolls on the Cross Bay Bridge,” said the spokeswoman. “He will continue to work with the governor to help the families of the affected communities.”
Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4546.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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