More than 150 people from East Rockaway and Bay Park rallied Saturday to spotlight the needs of their communities, where many residents remain out of their homes 10 months after superstorm Sandy devastated the area.
The rally at Kevin E. McNulty Park in East Rockaway was organized by the11518 Inc., a civic association made up of East Rockaway and Bay Park residents that formed after Sandy. The group is named after the East Rockaway ZIP code, where some residents complained about delays in assistance from federal and local governments, as well as insurance companies.
"For 10 months, we have neighbors who haven't been living in their homes," said group president Dan Caracciolo, 33, of East Rockaway, who had 6 feet of water in his basement and was displaced for 23 days after the Oct. 29 storm. "For 10 months, we have listened to the hums of generators from the Bay Park sewage plant."
The East Rockaway plant was knocked offline for two days after 9 feet of saltwater entered the facility; two pipes ruptured under the storm pressure, sending raw sewage flowing into homes and through streets in Baldwin and East Rockaway. It took 44 days to restore plant operations.
"I had sewage in my house -- that has to be fixed," said Sandy Pezzuto, 64, of Bay Park, whose home was demolished and will be replaced with a modular house on pilings. "All these people are rebuilding and they have to deal with the smell of the plant. When a storm hits, we might have to deal with it again."
County Executive Edward Mangano has requested $722 million in borrowing to repair the plant, but the legislature's Democratic caucus has opposed borrowing the full amount all at once, arguing additional oversight is needed. Mangano's office has said it expects90 percent of that sum to be reimbursed by the federal government.
Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin said in an email that temporary repairs were put in place about three weeks ago so the generators could be turned off.