Today!—the Rockaways. Tomorrow!—America…
The New York Review of Books has just published a Bizarro World essay on Hurricane Sandy’s impact on The Rockaways, by one Michael Greenberg, who says he grew up here. There was no crime, and the black cut-throats from the local city housing projects were merely the victims of (presumably racist) neglect by the city. [Occupy the Rockaways! January 10, 2013.] The headline is a reference to Greenberg’s claim that some the relief worker volunteers “had been participants in last year’s Occupy Wall Street protest.”
Well, admittedly, the Stix family was not victimized by criminals of any race—unless we count the local hardware store, from which we’re still trying to recoup $800 for a 200-pound generator that died after 10 minutes!
We got out of Sandy with little in losses due to not having a basement (everyone who had one got flooded); to having a huge building next door to block for us; and to The Boss.
We knew Sandy would make landfall at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, October 29. So, naturally, The Boss decides to walk to work on the boardwalk at exactly that time.
After working 22 straight hours—she’s a nurse—she had just come home to shower, and because she can’t trust me to take care of our son. (Never mind that I took care of him 23/7 when he was a newborn, while she went to nursing school full-time and worked as a nurse aide weekends).
I told her to forget it, or to use the street. She nixed that, afraid that falling electrical lines might electrocute her. (If things are so bad that you’re in danger of being electrocuted just walking to work… oh, never mind.)
As with Hurricane Irene, my son and I celebrated landfall by hobnobbing with our neighbors on the boardwalk, prepared to run inside at a moment’s notice.
The Boss passes us, heading to work. I can’t let her go alone, and my son won’t stay home alone, so we’re all going to her job.
About a minute later, here comes Sandy!
The first wave hits the beach side of the boardwalk. The second one takes about one second to make it from one side of the boardwalk to the other. My son and I simultaneously hatch the same crazy idea: To hoist him up and over the rail on his side, onto the grass a foot below. But the wave is too fast, and throws him over, with him clinging to the rail, as if to the side of ship. I was sure he’d broken some ribs, but he was o.k.; however, his eyeglasses looked like a giant had squished the lenses with his thumb and forefinger, making them permanently blurry.
A few hours later, that 100-year-old boardwalk would be but a memory.
With the help of some shrieked Anglo-Saxonisms that the neighbors will not soon forget, I was able to convince The Boss to turn around and head home.
My son and I had to walk about 400 feet to the opposite end of the block to find a dry spot to cross the flooded street back to our side, and double back, but we were already all soaked to the bone. The Boss walked through the water. She called out at work.
That was about 5:40 p.m. We had electricity and telephones until about 7:10 p.m., when Sandy knocked out everything but the gas lines. (I didn’t figure out until the next day that I could cook using matches to light the stove).
We had about 1,500 pounds in home-made sandbags out back, half of which were left over from Hurricane Irene, and half of which I’d filled the night before Sandy hit. The Boss threw a 200-pound bag across the door to our boiler, which stopped the two-to-three inches of salt water that accumulated from seeping under the door and destroying the boiler. And when the rapids-style surge suddenly shot up to and past our front door (which I was helpfully holding open, watching watch nature rage), The Boss had our 12-year-old son fetch towels and cotton blankets, which she put against the inner door, and mopped up sea water that had made it 10 feet inside.
As soon as the surge receded, leaving a pile of sand, she grabbed a broom and swept it against the door, creating a natural barrier. Mother Nature had deposited a barrier of 20 times as much wet sand up against the outer door.
For over one month thereafter, there were millions of pounds of sand underfoot and in the air.
The biggest problems were a lack of potable water and heat. Supply-wise, we’d made no particular preparations for Sandy beyond filling pots, pans, and bottles with tap water. However, long before any warning about Sandy was issued, between general principle and the fear of black man-made disasters, I’d amassed food stores sufficient to last six months.
New York City’s neglect of infrastructure had already caused a years’-long water crisis in the Rockaways. Sometimes the water seems fine, sometimes it is clearly unusable. We didn’t use the tap water to cook or even to boil coffee or tea, But we had to wash dishes, bathe (out of buckets), and use steam for heat.
Despite the candles and flashlights we used on the kitchen counter, it was so dark that we couldn’t see just how bad the water was until we got our electricity back on November 14th. We had been bathing and washing dishes with a dark brown, sewage-contaminated broth. In late January, we are still using bottled water to do things like cook rice and pasta, and brush our teeth.
By November 15, the water looked clear again, but I waited another two weeks to boil a pot of spaghetti with it. We promptly all got sick for 5-6 days. A week later, we caught another sort of bacterial infection, including what has come to be known as “Rockaway cough,” a dry, constant cough that destroys one’s ability of sleep.
During the 17 days without power, our home was also freezing, often colder than outside. No amount of clothing retained enough heat.
Day-to-day life involved spending hours to get “trivial” tasks done like bathing, cooking, and washing pots. Each day was otherwise taken up with hunting for supplies—for instance, my carrying over 50 pounds at a time of water, juice, canned goods and batteries in plastic bags from the local parish church. And spending inordinate amounts of time in bed, exhausted.
But our neighbors were a source of strength, not fear. Everyone talked daily and bucked each other up. I met neighbors I hadn’t known, and learned other neighbors’ names.
Our neighborhood is over 90 percent white (about 70 percent Irish), and almost all of that Roman Catholic. It responded to the crisis with spontaneous self-organization, rather than spontaneous chaos. People momentarily left the neighborhood to where their cellphones worked, and contacted friends, relatives, and associates to get supplies like gas and generators, and to get the repair work underway the next day—without waiting for the city, state, or feds to bail them out.
In contrast, the East End of the peninsula is dominated by black public housing projects. During the mid-to-late 1990s, when The Boss and I lived on Far Rockaway’s Gateway Blvd. and Beach 15th Street respectively, gunfire was a daily event in many parts of Far Rock, Edgemere, Arverne and Rockaway Beach (Hammels), all black. Cabbies told me they would not answer calls to the projects at Beach 52nd-54th Street (Edgemere/Arverne border).
In recent years at the Hammel Houses projects, around Beach 86th Street, I have seen the NYPD show up with 30 men on a routine call.
Black Hammels’ residents have been known to attempt to murder policemen entering buildings chasing suspects, to riot and assault officers seeking to make routine arrests, to casually shoot at cops on the street, and to terrorize local homeowners.
New York TV and daily newspapers typically refuse to report on such routine black violence.
So, during the crisis, which ran through November and beyond, “rumors” were typically more reliable than the New York Main Stream Media.
From Sandy+1 (Tuesday, October 30) onward, we heard many reports of black looters and robbers from friends, acquaintances, and even strangers on the street. We also heard of robbers disguised as workers for the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), the electric company—darkly humorous, considering that LIPA was completely AWOL, and none of its workers would be sighted in our community until a two-minute cameo appearance, the day before the November 8 nor’easter. The Boss learned from black colleagues that Far Rockaway blacks had looted the Marshall’s department store in nearby Lawrence, in Nassau County’s fancy Five Towns area.
The Boss also heard, circa November 2, of gun-wielding men boarding city buses and robbing people.
Radio was our only outside source of information. In spite of itself, it brought bad news about New York City: GOP New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had refused offers to provide people with free gasoline, saying that he didn’t want a replay of the violence on gas lines in New York (which the MSM had suppressed).
On Thursday, November 8 (S+10), while waiting in line for free gas, I meet a pretty, 40-year-old white lady, who tells me of her family’s Rockaway Park store in the Beach 110s being looted by blacks, immediately following Sandy.
Looters simply reached in a broken window, and grabbed whatever was at hand. They also broke into three evacuated, Jewish-owned nursing homes on Beach 113-115th streets, grabbing even IV drip bags off of their racks, which were of no value on the street.
For increasing numbers of blacks, stealing seems to be an end in itself.
The woman also reported that blacks looted a Key Food supermarket in the Hammels strip mall on Beach 87th Street, undaunted by the NYPD’s 100th Precinct five blocks away. (They also looted the Key Food on Beach 105th St.)
Just as a large, dreadlocked, mid-to-late 20s black man passes us in the street, wearing colorful, brand-new sneakers that he couldn’t possibly have just bought, while my shoes are covered in Sandy dust, she tells me of blacks looting a sneaker store in the Hammels strip mall.
On November 19, I learned that looters had broken into a closed, damaged, Rockaway Beach public school on Beach 104th Street, and stolen 90-100 Ipads. And a resident on Beach 91st Street, who heard post-Sandy gunfire three nights in a row, identified it as coming from the Hammels, though the Daily News reporters (above) either couldn’t or wouldn’t identify the housing project.
Obviously for good reason, there was a massive quasi-law enforcement presence. Ubiquitous, unarmed, black Sanitation Enforcement officers were drafted as unofficial traffic and anti-looting cops, and to escort the round-the-clock sanitation crews scooping sand with backhoes and mini-CATs, while NYPD uniforms worked round-the-clock out of their precincts. The Boss saw real cops hiding in the shadows, as she trudged with a flashlight to work the graveyard shift on the white West End, and a black girlfriend in Far Rockaway’s black East End saw a policewoman acting as a decoy.
The New York Main Stream Media was clearly if clumsily censored. Eventually, I found stories of looting in places like the Christian Science Monitor, Huffington Post, and even from the bloggers at London’s Daily Mail. (Thousands of Americans rely on the Mail bloggers’ less PC re-writes and plagiarisms of American news outlets for their news.)
But, even here, none gave physical descriptions, names, or published any arrested suspects’ mug shots. Thus the MSM was putting residents’ lives in even greater jeopardy, and being utterly worthless…except to black felons
This, according to the out-of-town Christian Science Monitor, mass looting involved packs of as many as 50-100 (black) thugs in South Brooklyn’s Coney Island, and smaller bands in lower Manhattan’s South Street Seaport and the Rockaways. [Hurricane Sandy’s darker side: Looting and other crime by Amy Lieberman, Christian Science Monitor, November 3, 2012.]
Conversely, Fox News quoted an unnamed policeman who asserted that there was no looting in Lower Manhattan. [Hurricane Sandy: Residents of NYC's Loisaida Neighborhood Scramble for Food, Water & Entertainment by Andrew O'Reilly, Fox News Latino, October 31, 2012.]
Similarly, after five days, reporters quoted blacks from Rockaway areas that had suffered relatively little damage as saying that they had no food and were desperately seeking for such, and talking about gunfire in housing projects, as if the latter were a reaction to Sandy.
The MSM also uncritically quoted the routine black claim that under such circumstances, anyone would become a criminal. The Daily News, which calls itself “New York’s Hometown Paper,” was the source for many of the Daily Mail’s Sandy blogs. Four days after Sandy hit, News reporters uncritically quoted residents in the black areas Far Rockaway and Edgemere claiming that blacks were starving. [Queens residents arm themselves in the post-storm blackout from looters by Clare Trapasso, Mark Morales, Corky Siemaszko and Pete Donohue, Daily News, November 2, 20:44 PM [sic
Well, in my white, working/middle-class area, no one was starving, or became a cut-throat—perhaps because of fear of death from our guns, the refusal of some of us to follow Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s order to evacuate, and signs saying, “U LOOT WE SHOOT,” kept black thugs away from us.
And yet the NYPD, which has for 20 years kept down crime statistics through statistical legerdemain, said that for the 28-day period ending December 9—not even counting the prime Sandy looting period—burglaries increased 430 percent (from 10 to 53) in the white West End’s 100th Precinct, and 133.3 percent (from 12 to 28) in the black East End’s 101st Precinct, over the same period the previous year. Burglars were probably entering evacuated West End homes from the beach side. [Burglaries Persist Throughout Peninsula by Howard Schwach, The Wave, December 21, 2012.]
As for “starvation” driving people to crime, so much starch free food was being served and given away in cans throughout the Rockaway peninsula by volunteers and National Guardsmen that thousands of residents surely put on weight. [Misery for 2.5 million STILL without power after six days as lawlessness and fear take over New York’s outer boroughs by Rachel Rickard Straus and Snejana Farberos, [Daily] Mail Online, November 3; updated November 4, 2012.]
(Anyway, no civilized household, no matter how poor, would run out of food so quickly. The Stix family is working-class.)
Yet the first wave of desperate looters hit only hours after the waters receded, smashing their way into stores and grabbing up “necessities” like huge, flat-screen TVs and top-shelf liquor. [Looters target Coney Island after Sandy sweeps through by Matthew Lysiak and Nancy Dillon, New York Daily News, October 31, 2012, 1:21 p.m.]
Another stalwart News “reporter,” looter-apologist Oran Yaniv, would later mock the Brooklyn and Queens DAs for “much grandstanding,” for having said they would aggressively prosecute looters. Yaniv bragged of Brooklyn and Queens grand juries variously throwing out looting charges, or reducing them to the non-crime of “trespassing.”
“Diverse” grand jurors supported “diverse” criminals.
Yaniv approvingly quoted defense attorney Robert Marinelli’s ludicrous claim, reported in the Daily News that “his clients were looking for a place to power their phones when police lassoed them near the already-looted market.”
“In the Rockaways, at least 15 people were arrested for breaking into a string of stores in at least seven separate incidents throughout the storm-ravaged peninsula. A grand jury declined to indict three of those cases, and six cases are still pending.”Yaniv (message him on Twitter) apparently misplaced yet another six Rockaway looting cases. Once it resumed publication after being knocked out for a month, the Rockaway weekly newspaper, The Wave, listed 23 looting and burglary suspects that Yaniv had failed to name. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was also caught covering up Sandy-related criminality. Bloomberg seem to consider it some sort of moral victory to call as many crimes as possible “burglary,” and then about the numbers anyway. ([Queens D.A. Richard] Brown: Bloomberg Wrong on Looting Numbers by Howard Schwach, The Wave, December 7, 2012.)
[Most Hurricane Sandy looting cases thrown out by Oran Yaniv, New York Daily News, November 19, 2012, 20:25 p.m. [sic]]
Last week, a story on Time Warner’s all-liberal propaganda station NY1 reported that the Key Food in Coney Island, Brooklyn, which was also hard hit, was dropping charges against all 18 looters arrested for emptying the store. The manager (Hispanic?) said of the looters: “They needed food.” [Coney Island Key Food Reopens After Entire Store was Hit Hard by Sandy by Jeanine Ramirez, NY1, January 22, 2013.]
Of course, according to the New York Review of Books, there was no looting anyway.
Most of the New York media were simply following a boilerplate they’d developed in New Orleans:
(1) Depict black anarchy observed in neighborhoods where it is the norm, as being caused by the emergency and the racist neglect the (white) authorities inflicted upon them. (Never mind that these areas routinely get more money and services lavished on them than white areas do.);
(2) Assert that any group (i.e., whites and Asians) would act the same under such horrific stress;
(3) Claim that the police are nowhere to be found (or are around, and are guilty of racial profiling!
(4) Wildly exaggerate black suffering (e.g., blacks are “starving!”).But whites are not (yet) blacks, and New York is not New Orleans.
EPILOGUE: A couple of nights after Sandy hit the Rockaways, several female health care workers are taking a break during the graveyard shift. A few are black Americans, a few are black West Indians, and one (my wife) is an Indian West Indian.
A colleague asserts that Hurricane Sandy was God showing His wrath, and punishing us for gay marriage.
Nicholas Stix [email him] is a New York City-based journalist and researcher, much of whose work focuses on the nexus of race, crime, and education. He spent much of the 1990s teaching college in New York and New Jersey. His work has appeared in Chronicles, The New York Post, Weekly Standard, Daily News, New York Newsday, American Renaissance, Academic Questions, Ideas on Liberty and many other publications. Stix was the project director and principal author of the NPI report, The State of White America-2007. He blogs at Nicholas Stix, Uncensored.