Three weeks after Hurricane Sandy hit NYC, I rode along with a group of volunteers to help with those recovering on the Rockaway Peninsula. We started out at the Occupy Sandy distribution center at St. Jacobi Church in Sunset Park, Brooklyn to pack up our cars with specific supplies. From there we would bring those supplies to the Silver Gull Beach Club which transformed from a beach resort to a distribution center for the Rockaways. We would sorted through all the donations there and repacked our cars to bring food, clothes, etc to specific locations on the peninsula.
The original plan was to just shoot what was going on. But once we got started, I had to put the camera down and help where I could. It's one thing to read about the devastation and see pictures of what happened to the Rockaways. However, going down there to see the destruction, to talk to the victims, to see how communities have come together, to see volunteers from all over the country - it's a whole different experience.
I saw a full spectrum of images that are hard not to see anymore. At the Silver Gull Beach Club, I saw the destruction of a popular summer destination. Some of the cabanas on the beachfront were no longer there. The main room was now the holding area for donations including mountains of clothes, boxes of supplies and tables of donated food. I got invited into a flooded house in the Beach 40s where volunteers from Connecticut were ripping out dry wall. Outside the house, the water line was above my head (see the rose bush shot at 1:26). Across the street was a clothing and food distribution center monitored by FEMA. I met a real life hero in the Beach 20s bungalow community who organized a distribution center with volunteers from the neighborhood.