Written by Rosemary Leonetti & Joseph Kellard
Three Long Beach Public School students played a musical role in a ceremony at City Hall on Oct. 26 to commemorate the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy.
Long Beach High School senior Alexandra Brodsky helped open the ceremony with a rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Then, to reflect the spirit of hope at the event, Long Beach Middle School eighth-graders Andrew Buskey and Troy Morris played an instrumental version of George Harrison’s “Here Comes the Sun” on guitar and alto saxophone.
An estimated 1,000 residents, first responders and government officials convened for the ceremony, held Saturday outside City Hall in Kennedy Plaza, which served as a hub for emergency efforts after the storm slammed Long Beach Oct. 29, 2012.
The highlight of the event was a featured a 15-minute documentary by local filmmakers, titled “Surge: A City Recovers,” which captured scenes from the beach town before, during and after the storm and including interviews with residents and city officials about their experiences living through the natural disaster.
Speakers at the event included City Manager Jack Schnirman, Councilmembers Fran Adelson and John McLaughlin, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, Assemb. Harvey Weisenberg, Legis. Denise Ford, and County Comptroller George Maragos, among others.
Ford remembered staying in her Ohio Street home the night Hurricane Sandy barreled across the barrier island, the force of which set off numerous car alarms. “And then it was dead silence,” Ford recalled about being home, powerless and feeling alone. But in the days that followed, when everyone from firefighters to neighbors came to help, that feeling changed. “Then we knew we were not alone,” she added.
The homes of Adelson and McLaughlin both sustained heavy damages, which required that they live elsewhere as they rebuilt and eventually returned. Adelson talked about the many city residents who remain displaced one year later. “We cannot forget the thousands of people not back in their houses,” she said.
McLaughlin recalled feeling a “profound sorrow” as he travelled around the battered city the day after Sandy struck, but he was also heartened by what he saw in the days that followed. “People became neighbors again,” he said. “They honestly cared about each other.”Weisenberg remembered the volunteers coming from across the nation to assist with the city’s recovery efforts, particularly at the Ice Arena, which served as a disaster recovery center that he compared to an “enormous flea market” of necessities. “It was an amazing event,” said Weisenberg, a lifelong Long Beach resident.