Four years to the day after superstorm Sandy battered Long Beach, about a hundred runners reclaimed the boardwalk on Saturday for a 5-kilometer road race and ceremony marking the storm’s anniversary.
“Take a moment to realize how far we’ve come,” state Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) told a post-race crowd of about 50 people .
Kaminsky recalled the flooded homes, the destroyed boardwalk and the displaced residents.
“There’s a reason why we’re all standing out in the cold,” City Manager Jack Schnirman said. “It’s a terrific symbol of our recovery.”
While many residents are back in their homes, some are still waiting to return, which Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) called a “great American tragedy.”
Kaminsky said his office has doubled as a Sandy recovery office. “You don’t have to look very far to know there are people who are still struggling,” he said.
“Race2Rebuild,” which hosted the 5K and a kids’ 1K race, is a national organization founded after superstorm Sandy whose volunteer athletes raise money and help build homes for the victims of natural disasters. The organization has built several homes in Long Beach.
Anthony Eramo, vice president of the Long Beach City Council, said the superstorm showed officials they need to think outside the box to keep historic flooding at bay the next time a massive storm bears down on the Island.
“We’re on the front lines of climate change,” Eramo said, noting that officials added underground retention chambers on Neptune Boulevard after Sandy for runoff stormwater to reduce flooding. “Our storms are changing.”
Long Beach resident Lauren Darienzo, 40, was the first-place women’s finisher in the 5K with a time of 21:02. Her family’s home flooded and they were displaced for about two months after the storm.
Running along the boardwalk — which celebrated its third birthday this week — on Saturday morning reminded her of the city’s resiliency. She said it was “amazing” that the boardwalk was even rebuilt.
“It just shows how strong we are,” she said.