Thursday, October 31, 2013

Roosevelt Island One Year After Hurricane Sandy - And Update On Roosevelt Island Volunteers Relief Efforts For Rockaways Head Start Program

It's been a year since Hurricane Sandy devastated many sections of New York City. Fortunately, compared to others, Roosevelt Island

was not badly damaged from Hurricane Sandy other than the loss of power at the Octagon

and Coler Hospital which resulted in the evacuation of some Coler patients.

As reported last December 2:
Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Vice President of Operations Fernando Martinez (who resigned effective December 21) updated the November 29 meeting of the RIOC Board Operations Committee on damage suffered by Roosevelt Island from Hurricane Sandy.

Mr. Fernandez repeated his earlier report to the Operations Committee that Lighthouse Park was severely damaged with the pedestrian bridges washed away and light poles damaged requiring the park to be closed for an indefinite period of time.

Mr. Martinez added that there was additional damage to the Cultural Center that had some of its windows blown out and significant soil erosion damage to Southpoint Park seawall area.  ...

One year later, most of Lighthouse Park is open except for the area from the washed away pedestrian bridges north to the Island tip.

RIOC still has not replaced the washed away bridges nor has the Cultural Center reopened.

A few days after Hurricane Sandy, Roosevelt Island residents pitched in to help our fellow New Yorkers living in neighborhoods that were severely damaged by the storm. Among those efforts were providing and delivering supplies to the Community and Family Head Start Program in the Rockaways section of Queens.

Roosevelt Island Rockaway Donation Image From Cynthia Cummings

Roosevelt Island resident Karine Wong led the efforts to help out the Head Start Program in the Rockaways.

 Image From Karine Wong

Ms. Wong sends us this update one year later:
A year ago, the Roosevelt Island community answered my call to help 110 kids and their families and they should know that their contributions had a really big impact few miles away from here.

Saturday we went to a re-opening celebration at the Community Parents Head Start School out in the east end of the Rockaways.

Like our entire involvement, what we found was not what we thought would be there;

We figured we would find the school repaired, painted, all shiny and new. We did but there was a lot more there to see and we were fortunate to have been given a brief glimpse of what has been accomplished.

We learned that the Bank Street College for Teachers has developed a curriculum called the Teddy Bear method. We learned that the process used is a home based model. We learned that the teachers thought at the beginning that they would be teaching more than learning.

All these things adding up to the fact that the community has taken the opportunity to take advantage of the misfortunes that arrived with the hurricane to bring neighbors together and to build a stronger and better community.

We were provided some insight how the Teddy Bears help the children at the school to communicate the things that they experienced and felt through and after the hurricane. For many it is not until months later that they could explain how terrified they were and how the storm had changed their lives. Through the process the teachers all learned about themselves, their students and the families of the students. The head of curriculum barely holding together through her explanation, many of the audience growing emotional at the telling of the story and how it has changed the lives of the children and their community.

In the end we learned that the months of support the Roosevelt Island community provided to this community out at the eastern end of the Rockaway peninsula had a lasting effect. The road to recovery is certainly slow. The message that they wanted everyone to hear was that they are thankful to the Roosevelt Island community for reaching out and sticking with them through those difficult times. They wanted to say thank you. Also to say so much more than words can express as shown in the words and artwork the children are creating.

Here’s to the ripple effect of hope and support that will continue for years to come and outlast the receding water and memories of that storm a year ago.
More here on Roosevelt Island residents helping out the Rockaways.