Riding the Waves in a Damaged City: A Surfer's Return to Rockaway Beach

Monday, May 20, 2013

Rockaway surfer Michael Miller (Jennifer Hsu/WNYC)

Area beaches officially reopen to visitors this weekend for swimmers, the first time since Sandy ravaged the area, but for the city's surfers, the beaches never closed. Surfer Michael Miller was back at Rockaway Beach a mere five weeks after the storm.

All he wanted was to get out to the waves, he said, but he decided to wait. "I remember how I felt when I saw people running through our neighborhood, Red Hook, looking at what we were doing," he says. "I wanted to give respect to people out in Rockaway so I waited as long as I could." He finally made it out to the waves in early December.

"It felt like an apocalypse," said the 44-year-old, a visual artist and teacher at Packer Collegiate in Brooklyn. "Like a scene out of Mad Max."

These days, Miller is back to his routine, constantly checking an iPhone app with surf conditions, hoping to get a hint that they're favorable enough to go. When he's lucky, he makes it down to his favorite surf spot, Rockaway Beach at 60th Street, two or three times a week. 

Watch Miller surf the Rockaways, the latest in WNYC's Know Your Neighbor video series about living in New York City:

A view of Rockaway Beach from Miller's surfboard


More in:

Comments [4]

Edie from Brighton Beach

Makes no sense. Lots of surfers did not wait went out there right away... to help!
Long days of volunteering work and some sessions in the water.

Jun. 18 2013 07:34 AM
Matt from BK

A wonderful, affecting video. My deepest kudos to the producer for handling such great material so artfully. Well done. (Love the music as well.)

Jun. 05 2013 03:03 PM
Maysa from Brooklyn

Michael, good for you! to go back to the Rockaways, I can't wait for this summer to spend more time at the Rockaways. Great video.

May. 24 2013 07:17 PM
Amy from BK

Also check out MIchael's MTA Arts for Transit installation at the Beach 90 station at Rockaway. Gorgeous faceted glass pieces based on his surf-inspired paintings.

May. 20 2013 03:49 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.


About Know Your Neighbor

Know Your Neighbor is a video series about the characters, legends, and good folk living in your midst.

Nominate your neighbor: I'm looking to profile fascinating people in every corner of the city. Leave a comment or email about someone you'd like me to profile, and I just may come to your 'hood to produce a video about their story.


Supported by