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Rockaways

WNYC News

After Losing Hospital, Rockways Get Medical Center

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The city is selling a dilapidated courthouse in the Rockaways to a private developer and a group of physicians who pledge to transform it into a new healthcare facility. Officials say the new clinic will help the community, following the closure Peninsula Hospital last year

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WNYC News

Show Goes on at Theatre Program in Rockaways After Sandy

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

One of the casualties from Sandy was a wardrobe of costumes and props from the drama program at the Scholars’ Academy in Rockaway Beach, Queens collected over the past seven years. The combined middle school and high school was one of the last in the city to re-open after Sandy. And now the drama department is rushing to prepare for a performance of Stephen Sondheim’s "Into the Woods" before the school year ends. 

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WNYC News

Eight NYC Districts Decide How to Spend Public Money

Sunday, April 07, 2013

While a few local politicians have been caught in bribery scandals this week, others are looking for an alternative way of doing city business.

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Transportation Nation

Subway Sea Wall Of Steel Rising Between A Train And Jamaica Bay

Monday, April 01, 2013

Pile driver installs a section of steel wall between A train tracks in the foreground and Jamaica Bay behind. (photo by Jim O'Grady)

(New York, NY - WNYC) New York is Holland now: the NY Metropolitan Transportation Authority is building a wall to keep out the sea along a two-mile stretch of the A subway line on its way to the Rockaway peninsula in Queens. The wall is made of thick steel and runs along the eastern side the tracks on the island of Broad Channel, in the middle of Jamaica Bay.

The $38 million project is the MTA's first big step since Sandy to prevent flooding from future storm surges.

To make sure the wall is strong enough to hold off another flood, workers are pounding each section about 30 feet into the ground. In the end, the wall will rise only seven feet above the rails, two feet above Sandy's height. The MTA thinks that's high enough.

On a recent windy afternoon, Contractor Mitch Levine was watching workers pile drive and weld each section into place. He said the wall is designed to withstand salt water. "This steel is special steel," he said. "It's marine steel, which will stop it from eroding over the course of 100 years."

Keeping the hungry waves at bay

NY MTA program manager Raymond Wong said the wall is supposed to prevent future storm surges from doing what Sandy did in this area, which was rip the embankment right out from under 400 feet of track.

"The tracks were hanging in the air," he said.

For three weeks after Sandy, each tide took another bite from a larger section of the embankment--until the NY MTA rebuilt the shore by dumping tons of stone and concrete next to the tracks. But this stretch of the A train across Jamaica Bay is still not in service. Thousands of riders now cram into crowded shuttle buses and face rush hour commutes that can end after midnight.

The wall will also serve a second purpose: keeping debris off the line. Forty-eight boats came to rest on the tracks after Sandy, along with jet skis, docks and fuel tanks. The clean up alone took three months.

Why a wall?

NY MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said engineers chose a steel wall to protect the A train because, "It could meet strength requirements as well as timing requirements--we wanted to make sure the wall would be in place by May 1." The line is scheduled to return to full service by summer.

Although Jamaica Bay is part of Gateway National Park, Ortiz said the wall didn't need to go through "any type of approval process" because it's within the right-of-way of the tracks, which is controlled by NYC Transit. Ortiz said the NY MTA did consult with the National Park Service and Army Corps of Engineers about the plan.

At the Broad Channel station replacing signals and thousands of feet of cable and other components. (Photo: Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Kevin Ortiz)

Bringing the power back

The MTA is taking a much more short term approach to repairing the A train's damaged electrical system. A mile away from Broad Channel, a control house sits in the railyard at the end of the line in Rockaway Park. Inside, Wong showed off rooms stuffed with equipment that looked modern in the 1950s, when it was installed. One panel has thousands of fuses, each with its own hand-lettered tag. Sandy turned these rooms into temporary aquariums.

"Everything was just coated in salt water that undermined the copper," Wong said. "When we came here, this whole thing was a big block of rust."

Electricity is vital to the subway. It powers signals that keep the trains apart, and switches that move those trains down the right track. There's also lighting at stations, public address systems, and power to the third rail to move the trains--the list goes on.

So what is the MTA doing to protect the electrical equipment at low-lying sites from future storms? "We're just trying to get up and running over here," Wong said. "There's really not much you can do."

Wong said, ideally, the MTA will lift the control house 10 feet in the air, rip out the old components and computerize the system. But that's millions of dollars and years away. His goal right now is to get the A train back by summer, however he can.

Click here for more photos of restoration work on the A line.

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WNYC News

Wall Of Steel Rising Between A Train and Jamaica Bay

Monday, April 01, 2013

WNYC

It's official: New York is Holland now. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is building a wall to keep out the sea along a two-mile stretch of the A line on its way to the Rockaways.

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WNYC News

Councilman Calls On Verizon To Fix Phone Lines

Monday, March 25, 2013

Almost five months after Sandy, there's still no dial tone for hundreds of people living in the Rockaways. The city councilman representing the area is warning the phone outage is a dangerous situation that must be fixed quickly.

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Transportation Nation

AUDIO: With the A Train Gone, Traveling to the Rockaways Becomes Much Harder

Monday, March 11, 2013

View from the A Train window as it crosses Jamaica Bay. (Photo by roboppy)

(New York, WNYC) Before Sandy, every A train trip between the Rockaway peninsula and the rest of New York City began and ended with a crossing of Jamaica Bay. The train moved along a piece of land so thin that, from inside the train, it appears to skim atop the water.  But for months, that 3.6 mile railroad bridge has been out, doubling commutes for Rockaways residents and further adding to the sense of deprivation brought on by Sandy.

On October 29, Sandy's storm surge overwhelmed that thread of connection. When the waters receded, the A train's foundation was gone, removing a major transit link from the peninsula's 130,000 residents.

One of those residents is senior producer of The Takeaway, Jen Poyant.  She moved to the Rockaways a few years ago for a relatively affordable beach home -- far from Manhattan, but still, a direct shot on the A train.  Water filled Poyant's basement, and came within a foot of flooding her first floor.  For a month, she and her family couldn't return home.  When she finally got back, she was overjoyed, but the daily trip to work can feel overwhelming -- like a little bit of work squeezed between commutes.

The direct train ride has become an odyssey from a slow-moving crowded bus to the train miles into the mainland.  Sometimes, fellow commuters told Poyant, it takes all night to get home from Manhattan.

The MTA says its aware of the frustrating commute, but can't promise relief until summer.

MTA executive director Tom Prendergast described the result to New York's City Council: "An entire bridge and critical subway line serving the Rockaways was destroyed."

With the A train out, the MTA put subway cars on a truck, drove them to the peninsula and lifted them by crane onto tracks that serve six stops at the end of the line. The H train now runs for free from mid-peninsula at Beach 90th Street to the eastern end of the Rockaways. Bus service has also been increased.

But these are temporary measures. The list of needed repairs to the A train is extensive, and the going is slow. "We had to build out the shoulders on the east and west sides of the track, where you saw the washouts occur," Prendergast said. "We've had to replace damaged and missing third rail protection boards and insulators. We've had to replace signal power and communications equipment, which is ongoing." And damage to the Broad Channel subway station has not yet been fully repaired.

The MTA has patched and reinforced the land bridge where Sandy took large bites from it. But crews are still laboriously laying track and rebuilding the signal system from scratch — both on the railbed crossing Jamaica Bay and on the west end of the peninsula.

In the meantime, the MTA says it'll keep increasing service on the Q53 line, using old buses that have been held back from retirement. Those buses are jammed with riders every weekday rush hour as they make their way over the Cross Bay Bridge. More buses are coming in April.

The A train is expected back no earlier than late June.

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WNYC News

With the A Train Gone, Traveling to the Rockaways Becomes Much Harder

Monday, March 11, 2013

WNYC

For months, the 3.6 mile railroad bridge connecting the Rockaways to the rest of New York City has been out, doubling commutes for residents and further adding to the sense of deprivation brought on by Sandy.

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Transportation Nation

Beyond the School Bus: How Children Around the World Get to School

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

For thousands of children worldwide, the toughest part of getting an education is getting to school.

Walking to school in Calcutta  (photo by Alfred Yaghobzadeh/SIPA)

A new exhibit now on display at the United Nations chronicles those sojourns.  Journeys to School follows the routes of children in 13 different countries take as they walk, ride donkeys, snowmobile, ride the subway, and even canoe to school. Many of them must navigate dangerous roadways -- an issue that was thrown into sharp relief in New York City last week, where a 6-year old boy was struck by a truck just blocks from his school.  All the photos underscore the link between transportation and education. Getting to school in a safe -- not to mention timely -- fashion is as important as the condition of the classroom.

(Photo by Kate Hinds)

Children going to school via somlot, a motorcycle rickshaw in Mae Sot, Thailand. The driver is also the children's teacher. "If I can't get the kids only 50% would attend class," he said. (Photo by Nicolas Axelrod/SIPA)

According to UN statistics, 1,000 people under the age of 25 are killed in traffic crashes each day.

Six-year-old Elizabeth Atenio walks two hours every day to attend classes at the Kibera School for Girls in Nairobi. (Photo by Nichole Sobecki/SIPA)

While much of the exhibit was devoted to countries in the developing world, some children are in major cities -- including New York.

14-year-old Far Rockaway resident Santiago Munoz, who commutes over two hours each way to school in the Bronx (photo by Kate Hinds)

Santiago Munoz lives in Far Rockaway, Queens -- a New York City neighborhood devastated by Sandy. Before the storm, Santiago's commute to the Bronx High School of Science was already daunting.

"I used to walk six blocks to the nearest A train station," he said, "and from there I would ride it for around, I would say 50 minutes, then transfer to the 4 train for 40 minutes." Tack on a ten minute walk from the station to the school, and his commute -- on an average day -- was one hour and 40 minutes.

But then Sandy washed out a key segment of the A train, and he now takes two buses to get to the subway. "And now it takes me two hours and a half to get to Bronx Science." He says he uses his commute time to do homework or catch up on sleep.

Munoz said the exhibit gave him perspective. While he acknowledges his commute appears tough to the average New Yorker, "compared to these kids -- not at all. They're very inspiring."

Ruth McDowall, standing in front of her photographs of schoolchildren in Nigeria (photo by Kate Hinds)

Photographer Ruth McDowall talked about the average school day for children of the nomadic Fulani minority in Kulumin Jeji, Nigeria.  "They have to wake up at 5:00 in the morning," said McDowall, "to do chores like collecting firewood, getting water -- sometimes it can take an hour or more in dry season." The kids start walking to school by 6:30 am. "They get to school by eight, do about three hours of school, and then do another hour and a half walk home." Because the walk is long and hot, many children become dehydrated on the way to school, where they often find it difficult to concentrate. When they get back home, the rest of the day is devoted to herding responsibilities.

(photo by Kate Hinds)

 

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (photo by Kate Hinds)

The exhibit is on display in the United Nations Visitors Center until April 26, 2013.  It's organized by UNESCO, public transportation company Veolia Transdev and photo agency SIPA Press.

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WNYC News

Sneak Peak at New Plans for Rockaway Beach

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

WNYC has obtained renderings of how the city's parks department plans to rebuild beaches in the Rockaways post-Sandy.

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WNYC News

Parks Department Proposals for Beach Roil Rockaway Residents

Friday, February 22, 2013

Will the beaches in the Rockaways, badly damaged by Sandy, be ready for the summer? 

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WNYC News

Exiles Return: Months after Sandy, Adult Home Residents Go Back to the Rockaways

Saturday, February 16, 2013

More than three months after Sandy forced them to evacuate, the residents of Belle Harbor Manor in the Rockaways returned to their home on Thursday. It's the last of 22 evacuated adult residences to get its occupants back home.

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WNYC News

Rockaway Beaches Won't Be Back to Normal for Summer: Army Corps

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Beaches in the Rockaways may not be back to pre-Sandy conditions by the start of summer, according to an official at the Army Corps of Engineers who updated residents of the hard-hit neighborhood during a community board meeting Tuesday night.

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WNYC News

Many Sandy Families Stay Put and Brave Blizzard

Sunday, February 10, 2013

New York City officials say this weekend's snowstorm prompted 19 families, who had been toughing it out in their Sandy-damaged housing, to take the government up on its offer to provide hotel rooms. But non-profits groups say thousands more continue to make do in substandard housing.

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WNYC News

New NYC Flood Maps Add 35,000 Structures to Danger Zone

Monday, January 28, 2013

Twice as many homes and businesses in and near the city would be in flood zones under new maps that may force more property-owners to buy flood insurance, complicate post-Sandy rebuilding for some and confront others with the choice of building higher or paying considerably more for insurance.

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WNYC News

As Cold Snap Hits, Some Sandy Victims Still Lack Heat

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

As temperatures dip many residents of the Rockaways, an area hard hit by Sandy, are among the 8,200 still without power in the aftermath of the powerful storm that tore through the seaside community.

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WNYC News

Hurricane Sandy Videos

Friday, January 18, 2013

An archive of WNYC's video reports about life after Sandy.

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WNYC News

Businesses Still Waiting for Relief in the Rockaways

Monday, January 14, 2013

Despite all the fund raising and promises of recovery, when it comes to getting small businesses in Queens up and running after Sandy, the federal government has approved 37 loans for the entire borough, while the city has given out only 28. In the Rockaways, where much of the area was without heat and power for weeks after the storm, it’s given 9 loans.

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Schoolbook

Students Donate Books to Rockaways School

Thursday, January 03, 2013

As schools displaced by flooding and storm damage return to their buildings, and the holiday volunteer buzz fades, communities hard hit by Sandy still face a long recovery. One student recently undertook a book drive to help an elementary school, and he collected over 400 books.

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WNYC News

Documenting Recovery in the Rockaways

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Over 100 homes in the Breezy Point neighborhood in Queens burned to the ground during Sandy. Hundreds of other homes there were flooded. WNYC’s Stephen Nessen headed out and documented the destruction, which can be seen on The Weekly Flickr.

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