Friday, November 2, 2012

Coney Island Beach, Sandy Strikes Hard

With no train and very limited bus service, I walk the 12 miles to Coney Island.

The ferris wheel and rides stand like sentinels, firmly planted, beacons to visitors and locals at Coney Island. 

As far as I can see up and down the beach, the beige sand is a tangle of litter and no longer the pristine stretch of beach it was just 24 hours ago.  Wooden planks, sections of a boardwalk, a portion of a staircase, paint cans on their sides, spilling their color, bottles, cans, gas cans, a welcome home sign, chairs, benches, a couch, clothing, free weights, mattresses, a tennis racket, toys, several televisions, a bicycle, and window frames are just a few of the items I notice as I gingerly pick my way down Coney Island Beach.

Hundreds of other people poke and pick their way amidst the evidence of Hurricane Sandy.  No one is talking, just walking silently along the water's edge and among the ruins.  The sky is grey and the waves crash and recede, crash and recede, depositing plastic buckets, a dingy, bird carcasses, street signs.

Here gathers the debris from Long Island, Staten Island, Far Rockaway and so many other hard-hit communities.  This debris isn't trash, it's people's lives, people's livelihoods.  Those of us who have come out to the beach have come on purpose; that is, to witness, to be witnesses.  

Walking back to the bus station, Coney Island is a maze of police vehicles, ambulances, muddy roads and police lights.  Few people are out walking now that dusk has settled and there is a ghost town feel.  

Here's a video of the Beach at Coney Island, two days after Hurricane Sandy.


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