Sitting at the Noon Mark Diner counter in Keene Valley with my oldest friend Corey Coulter, we watched reports of Hurricane Sandy on the television. Our guys weekend hiking in the Adirondack Mountains had ended too quickly and we headed home a day before the storm reached the New York coastline.
As expected, airports canceled many flights and Corey was stuck on the east coast for an extra day. Many other transportation means were also suspended, including the LIRR, bridges and subways. Workers were home and schools were canceled. Living in White Plains prevented me to from crossing over either the Whitestone or the Throgs Neck bridges the morning after Sandy.
With the bridges closed, working for Newsday Westchester occupied my day. My assignment was to cover a day-in-a-life of Mamaroneck, NY. Power loss, many down trees and some flooding encapsulated the area. One of the most challenging aspects of the shoot was finding somewhere to transmit. Power was out in our home and many others. Although Starbucks in White Plains was closed, it had power. I managed to stand near the building and upload the video. Success, all in a long-day’s work!
Bridges opened by Wednesday morning and Corey’s flight was scheduled to leave that evening. I dropped him off at the airport on the way to work and wish him a safe flight home. Wednesday’s assignment was to cover the town of Bayville on the north shore of Long Island for Newsday. The damage that I saw in Westchester county was amplified in this area for obvious reasons, being farther south and on the water. I quickly found a boat washed up on the front yard of a Bayville resident home, dead fish laying on the boat ramp of the marina, closed roads and shock from the devastation existed for all the residents that I spoke with.
Another major problem in our area was the lack of gas. Many were using more then expected to run generators for heat and electricity. Some gas stations also didn’t have power, so they couldn’t provide fuel to the communities. If they did have electricity, the gas deliveries were either extremely slow or non-existent because the ports were closed for the shipment of petroleum. As a result, gas lines were many blocks long and stress was definitely apparent. At one point I was forced to wait three hours for gasoline. Without gas, I couldn’t commute or work. I worried about the possibilities of running out and becoming stranded. Stressful to say the least.
With the gas shortage and clean-up underway, New York City restricted access of HOV lines. Many were forced to take the LIRR. Newsday sent me to Freeport to speak with commuters. All commented on the necessity of mass-transportation during the post-Sandy recovery phase.
By the end of the day, I was preparing for my final assignment. Covering the devastated town of Lindenhurst. As I expected, the first two towns would be nothing in comparison to the damage seen on the south shore of Long Island.
Arriving in Lindenhurst early Friday morning came as a shock, It looked like a war zone. Some homes half-gone and a few washed away. Mounds of personal contents that were once carefully placed on a mantel or bookcase, now washed into the streets. Some boats that had become un-moored, were now literally pushed through neighbor’s houses. Car after car left abandoned destroyed by salt water
A bizarre and very surreal experience for myself. I walked the streets of Lindenhurst talking to residents. Many spoke candidly and one couple thanked me for approaching them. “This was the first chance we have had to really speak about this”.
This video, Surviving Sandy, was a compilation of many talented photographers and editors whom I am honored to work with. Each gave so much to this piece and it truly shows. Without the time and dedication by our entire team at Newsday, this compilation couldn’t have been produced.
Producer: Arnold Miller
Co-Producer: Bobby Cassidy
Editor: Mario Gonzalez
Initial daily editors: Daryl Thomen, Matthew Golub, Mario Gonzalez
Video Programming: Jessica Kelly
Voice Over: Meredith Daniels
Arnold Miller – Northport, Dix Hills, Fire Island, Melville, Farmingdale, Asharoken
Bobby Cassidy – Freeport, Wantagh, Lindenhurst
Jessica Rotkiewicz – Babylon, Bay Shore
Mario Gonzalez – Islip, Sayville, Bay Shore
Amanda Voisard – Port Washington
Tom Ferrera – Lindenhurst, Sayville
Alejandra Villa – Long Beach
Jim Staubitzer – Long Beach
Network News 12 – standup and studio
Paul Mazza – Lindenhurst freelance
Chris Ware – Lindenhurst, Bayville, Farmingdale