Hurricane Sandy was quite deceptive to those of us who casually watched the evening news broadcast, with a several minute clip of the weather briefly noting that a tropical storm was developing in the Atlantic Basin. Several days after the origin of the tropical storm the local media news outlets described the storm as slowing down and moving northeast up the Atlantic Ocean depositing heavy rain along the Florida coastline. I have no intentions of recording every tick, tock of the storm. However when the so called tropical storm/hurricane Sandy traveling northeast collides and combines with the Nor’easterner labeled Athena diving south the amalgamation of the two storms takes a rather sharp left hook and the eye is accurately predicated to hit the Jersey shore above Atlantic City. Indeed the combination of the two storms gives birth to the monster in the storm and “Frankenstorm” batters the NYC Metroplex with its 20ft Tsunami, sitting on top of a Full Moon High Tide, flushing water into every river, stream, bay, back- bay and estuary. Coastal communities are destroyed.
The devastation left in the wake of the “Frankenstorm” is catastrophic in financial terms but can be estimated in billions of dollars because it considers only intrinsic items, such as the replacement of structures, roads, power lines, automobiles etc. Incidentally, to the best of my knowledge, if you have lost a property that you have a mortgage on, if you do not have flood insurance, you still owe the mortgage to the bank.
The most difficult question is how do we estimate or gage the human aspect, the pain and suffering of those who have lost a loved one, the loss of one’s home with all its personal possessions, the loss of community, and the loss of one’s job, which gives them dignity. What will be the short term and long term psychological cost to families? The true restoration process must include the cost to return people to good mental health.
Without question, every catastrophic event has its heroes, and I and everyone in areas damaged by the “Frankenstorm” salute the NYPD, the FDNY, the DSNY and all first responders, who have worked tirelessly 24/7 to secure and clean communities block by block. Perhaps, some people will comment that its part of their job classification but they performed their duty with an excellence well beyond any direct supervision.
An unsung Hero
However, here in Howard Beach an unsung hero is ALDO CALORE. The 71-year-old owner of Aldo’s Pizza Restaurant, who was rescued by the FDNY in a motorized raft, despite nearly losing his life and his wife’s life from waters that smashed the basement door of their home, which is now unlivable. He buys a generator and partially opens his restaurant to help feed the community. Aldo never tried to gouge his customers. Aldo never raised his prices. Aldo could only accept cash, but if you did not have the cash, he flat-out gave you the food. A customer told me that Aldo sent many free pizza pies to people in Broad Channel. Yes! Aldo Calore is a person of solid virtue who can be admired for something substantial like his charity and love for his fellow man/woman and community.
I close with this question and final thought, why after the flooding of Hamilton Beach, Howard Beach and other low land communities from Hurricane Irene in August 2011 were these communities not declared Zone A. Our federal, state and local governments had thirteen months to prepare since Hurricane Irene. Clearly, they did not fine-tune their Emergency Management Strategy or Tactics. Benjamin Franklin said, (An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.)
**The views expressed in this column represent only those of the author and not the board or membership of the Juniper Park Civic Association.