Rockaway Dispatch: Bracing for the Coldest Night

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Sanitation trucks rumbled down mud-caked streets past downed power lines as thick sheets of sleet fell on the few residents roaming the streets of Far Rockaway Wednesday as a Nor’easter began bearing down.

Deborah Valentino, 57, was dragging around a sack of batteries, candles and paper towels for elderly neighbors in her apartment building. Valentino was born and raised in Far Rockaway. She didn’t evacuate for Hurricane Sandy, and said she’s not evacuating for the Nor’easter.

“I’m tired. And I’m tired of being afraid,” she said. “And it's almost like you have this mentality, like a war mentality, that you don’t want to leave because once you leave you may never come back.”

The area gets its power from the Long Island Power Authority, and at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, its site noted that high winds, rain and snow had caused additional damage.

Meanwhile, on Rockaway Boulevard, Alex Ocasio, 37, stood guard outside his house, with his teenage son. On his front door a spray painted sign read: “Have Gun Will Shoot U.”

“We’re the stepkids of New York City,” he said, referring to the lack of resources and supplies in his neighborhood.

Ocasio said he’s received some food from the National Guard and from an Occupy Sandy group, which was working with Greenpeace doling out chicken soup, rice, sandwiches and other supplies on the corner near his home.

His first-floor apartment took on six inches of water during Hurricane Sandy, and there were five feet of water in the vestibule.

He uses gas to keep his apartment warm and will be staying for the latest storm.

“There’s nothing to do but stay here, fix up, keep warm and hope for the best,” Ocasio said.