Snapshot | Staten Island's Midland Beach After Sandy

Monday, November 05, 2012

Debris from gutted homes in the Midland Beach section of Staten Island. Debris from gutted homes in the Midland Beach section of Staten Island. (Amy Pearl/WNYC)

A week after the storm, residents of Midland Beach, Staten Island, struggled to pick up the pieces — even as a FEMA disaster recovery area is set up at the end of Hunter Avenue and troops of volunteers with granny carts full of food go door-to-door.

Although many of the homes on the blocks right on or near the shore seem battered but livable from the outside, you only have to step across the threshold to see, smell and feel the devastation. Mud coats the floors and walls — even the inside of ovens and dishwashers. The stink of rotten food, mold and wet sheetrock choke the air.

Outside, homeowners, friends and volunteers still carry out ruined appliances, sheetrock, furniture, flooring, fixtures, cloths and possessions. Piles over 10 feet high line the streets.

Meisang and Wailin Wong visited the FEMA staging area on Monday to pick up some food and water. They rode out the storm in the 2nd story of their home on Bedford Avenue. "The water went up to the ceiling," Mr. Wong said. 

In the blocks across from the FEMA disaster recovery station, the devastation was everywhere. Teams of National Guard troops teamed up with sanitation works to clear the piled-up contents of homes.

On Mapleton, Horatio Aranjo was attempting to work on his car but he could not find part of his jack. Aranjo was eating dinner the night Sandy hit when he saw an erratic light moving out in the street. It was a car being carried along by flood waters. "It was a Katrina situation. The water came in so fast. We had no time." Aranjo and his wife, Doria, fled to their attic with their three cats.

The morning after the storm, he says he directed a boat to his neighbors across the street who were calling from the tiny attic window.

Inside 74 Mapleton, the smell of spoiled food, mold and wet sheetrock was overwhelming. Despite this, Doria Aranjo was in the kitchen attempting to salvage some brand new silverware, still in plastic. "Mira, mira!" she said in Spanish, pointing out the water and mud inside the oven, refrigerator and dishwasher.

The computer and much of the home was submerged in 6 feet of water.

The waterline is clearly visible above the awning on the front door.

Leaves and mud can be found in the bathroom at 74 Mapleton.

Doria Aranjo hastily took all the photos of her son off the wall as they rushed to the attic and piled them on a high shelf. They did not survive.

Work boots dry next to law books belonging to Aranjo's son who is in law school. 

A volunteer drove by offering dry cloths. Almost all the couple's clothes were ruined, including some locked in dressers swollen shut by water. Two other groups of volunteers canvasing the neighborhood with food and tools were turned away. 

Horatio Aranjo's bike. "This is how I get around. Shopping. My sister-in-law from Spain called to tell me there was free gas. I had to hear it all the way from Spain!"

Horatio Aranjo shows off one of his rose bushes onto which he grafted many different colored roses. "These will all die from the salt water. Everything here will die."

Horatio Aranjo fixes an angel in front of is house. "I want to get out of here. I'm tired." Aranjo was still waiting for a call back from his insurance agent on Monday afternoon.



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Comments [5]

Madge from Staten Island

I lived on Nugent Avenue, just off Greeley in the basement apartment of the last attached townhouse just along Miller Field. I lived there with my companion Wonda. Needless to say, the entire apartment was flooded out and the water was to the ceiling. We lost everything the day Sandy hit and survived because we ran out and were taken in by the landlords to the third floor of the dwelling, or we would have drowned !Who could have ever imagined a storm-surge 10 feet high,and we are not that close to the water here ! This was the MONSTER storm,and I sure hope we never see another one like this in our lifetimes ! We are two lesbians and have enough stress in our lives, we got married earlier this year in N.Y., and are now living in Greenridge-away from the coastline and the threat of anymore floods !

Nov. 12 2013 06:46 PM
Pat Brancotto from Staten Island

I have lived in Staten Island all my life. It is a great place to snorkel and view all kinds of fish. I usually snorkel in and around Staten Island. The beach and the bay are a great place to start. I have been snorkeling here for 36 years and I have never seen a shark in the water. It is super safe and the current is always low. Make sure you snorkel with a friend. I have snorkeled at night but I would not recommend it as the fish are hard to see. If you have a bright underwater light it may be ok to do at night.

Nov. 04 2013 07:15 AM
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Jan. 15 2013 05:01 AM
vmgillen from Staten Island

Here's a bit of news: FEMA is suspending relief efforts in the face of incoming nor'easter/winter storm. Good lord!

Nov. 06 2012 02:00 PM
Michael from Midland Beach, Staten Island

I was in Midland Beach over the weekend, and took some photos while en route.

Nov. 06 2012 10:25 AM

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