Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Howard Beach - Another Forgotten Neighborhood

Joining the Rockaways, Coney Island, Staten Island, Gerritsen Beach, Sea Gate and Broad Channel, people in Howard Beach say they have been forgotten by the city in the post-Sandy recovery efforts:

HOWARD BEACH — When Hurricane Sandy hit New York City last week, 38-year-old Howard Beach resident Eddie Dibari stood in his second-floor apartment, watching the water rise up to his front door.

“It was pitch-black out here,” Dibari said Tuesday, in front of his boarded-up apartment on 95th Street and 157th Avenue. “It was like standing in the middle of the ocean. I got scared that the water was starting to come up the stairs.”

After helping his elderly landlady and her husband onto a Fire Department boat, Dibari and his wife waited all night for the vessel to return. It never did.

While Dibari and his wife safely rode out the storm in their apartment, they awoke the next morning to find both their cars totaled, trees fallen and electrical wires dangling.

More than a week later, Dibari and many other Howard Beach residents, still without power, are feeling ignored by a local recovery effort that has focused on decimated areas like Staten Island and the Rockaways.

“We haven’t seen anybody,” said 51-year-old Howard Beach resident John Greenholtz who lives at 95th Street and 159th Avenue. “I haven’t seen Con Edison. I haven’t seen anybody from Keyspan. No one is telling us what we need to do to get the power back on.”

A large tree fell on top of Greenholtz’s house during the storm, landing near his 22-year-old daughter’s window. Although she was home at the time, she was not injured.

The tree remains on top of Greenholtz’s house, which also took in 5 feet of water during the storm, causing an estimated $60,000 of damage in the basement alone.

“I know it’s a bad storm all over — we just want our lights back on,” Greenholtz said, adding, “Everybody now in the neighborhood is pissed. There’s nothing going on.”

Resident Michael Russo, manager of Russo’s on the Bay, was also disappointed in the disaster response in Howard Beach.

“Nobody’s been here, no FEMA, no Red Cross, nothing,” Russo said. “[None of them] have been to Howard Beach. We’ve been forgotten about.”

As a resident of Zone A, low-lying areas that were evacuated during Sandy, Russo is surprised that “no one has been back there.”

The people in Howard Beach think the people in Staten Island and the Rockaways are getting all the attention.

Meanwhile people in the Rockaways and Staten Island feel forgotten.

The truth is, Bloomberg doesn't care about any of these people.

Again and again I write this because again and again it is becoming apparent.

Bloomberg doesn't give a shit about these people - the very neighborhood's that gave him his winning margin for his third term.


  1. The public must not tolerate or accept Bloomberg's mismanagement. Bloomberg is incompetent and it would be a valuable civic exercise to bring the necessary legal action to remove him from office due his incompetent mismanagement of the hurricane,
    the 2010 blizzard, the 911 system, the City Time system, the public school system and the police force. He has put too many people at risk, endagering the lives of too many innocent people by his dreadful decison making. It is unsafe to maintain this imperial charade. Public safety requires his removal from office.

    1. It's really amazing, if you just take the 911 system and the CityTime scandal, and note how he screwed the city out of $2.7 billion dollars - $2.7 billion. And there are plenty of other messes - the NYCHA computer mess, the NYCDOE scandals, the NYPD ticket fixing, the crime data fixing, etc.

      But so far, he's gotten away with all. People think he's been a pretty good mayor.

      That the press refuses to take him on directly doesn't help to disabuse people of this notion.

  2. Great piece. Quick note: Howard Beach has 24 hour national guard protection. Unless someone can show proof of residence, the NG is not allowing anyone into the community (word of this came to my attention from multiple people who don't know each other).

    For your readers who might not aware of the geography; Howard Beach is separated -by bridge- from a small island known as Broad Channel. That bridge (the Cross Bay) ultimately leads to Rockaway. While no one will tell me whether there is a checkpoint at the end of the bridge (there is one close to the Belt pkwy on the more north side of HB), I can tell you that there is no such protection at the other end of that bridge in the Rockaways. I can also tell you that the NG isn't visible (east of 80th street) at night in the Rockaways and that, of course, the buses (the only public transportation off the peninsula) don't run after dark in the Rockaways (my present understanding is that they ARE running in Howard Beach after dark).

  3. Howard Beach has a dubious legacy.

    Remember the racist event back in the 1980's when nearly twenty white teens chased three stranded black men through the neighborhood, killing one when he ran onto the Belt Parkway to get away from the lynch mob?

    Also, Howard Beach is John Gotti's old neighborhood.

    I would not surprised to hear that the NG has been put in place to "protect" the neighborhood - some there have that kind of political pull.

    Same goes for Breezy Point, Neponsit and Bell Harbor (lots of Wall Street traders and the like in those neighborhoods.)

    It's also not a surprise to me that Bloomberg and Cuomo have essentially forgotten about Far Rockaway, Arverne, et al., since those are primarily low-income neighborhoods and black.

    Why would a disaster change the trajectory of these men's policies? They ignore the needs of poor, black people on a good day, why change when things turn bad and resources get stretched?

    That said, I think it is interesting that the people in Breezy, Howard Beach, Neponsit, etc. are feeling ignored by Bloomberg and Cuomo too.

    What is interesting to me is that the very people who voted to give Bloomberg his third term (he won all of these neighborhoods) are now seeing the kind of disdain he has for the people in the outer boroughs.

    Rockaway is so isolated, if you are without a car and the trains and buses aren't running, you truly are stuck.

    It's a disgrace that the city isn't running buses after dark.

    That essentially means shutdown and lockdown for those without their own means of transportation.