Rockaway Turnpike rebuild moving slowly

More than six months after Sandy, businesses have yet to reopen


When John Leadbetter, the assistant manager at Verizon on Rockaway Turnpike in Cedarhurst, left the store on Oct. 29, eight to 12 inches of water were already pooling around the building.

“The water came up over the curb and we had four feet of water in the store,” he said. “The whole store was gutted and everything was replaced.”

Though Verizon was able to reopen two weeks after Hurricane Sandy, other businesses along Rockaway Turnpike were not as lucky. McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Wendy’s and 7-Eleven are just some of the businesses that have yet to reopen their doors. “I don’t know what’s taking them so long,” Leadbetter said of neighboring businesses that haven’t reopened.

Talks are ongoing between and a local developer and the building’s landlord to reopen the Rockaway Turnpike store, according to Kitty Munger, a spokeswoman for Wendy’s.

Next door to Verizon, at Lawrence Unisex Hair Salon, hairdresser Yuri Iskhaov said the salon was also closed for two weeks after Hurricane Sandy dumped three feet of water into the store. “Everything had to be replaced,” he said. “We’re still getting back to normal.”

Iskhaov said Rockaway Turnpike generated more customer traffic before Sandy and believes the businesses that remain closed have temporarily changed the area. “I do feel the impact on our business,” he said. “I hope it gets back to normal as soon as possible.”

Rockaway Turnpike, according to Leadbetter, had flooding issues prior to the hurricane during heavy rainstorms. “The intersection always floods,” he said of Peninsula Boulevard and Rockaway Turnpike. “I’m not an engineer but I think there’s too much water for the sewer to handle. Something should be done about it.”

Down the street at 5 Towns Mini Golf & Batting, located at 570 Rockaway Turnpike, manager John Fernandez said the streets drain during a rainstorm. “There’s no puddle build-up around here,” he said.

According to Fernandez, 5 Towns Mini Golf & Batting suffered four feet of water and had to replace the batting machines, mini-golf area and arcade games. “We were fine during Hurricane Irene; we opened the next day,” he said. “But everything aligned perfectly for this storm,” Fernandez added, alluding to the amount of flooding generated by Sandy.

Subway Manager Usman Eli said the sandwich shop was closed for four months after Hurricane Sandy and said he’s seen contractors working next door at the 7-Eleven. “I don’t know when it will open but they’ve been working on it for a while,” he said of 7-Eleven. “I hope this area gets better; it still needs more time.”

Have an opinion about this topic? Send your letter to the editor to