Very few people escaped the wrath of Hurricane Sandy, as the unprecedented storm left a path of destruction in her wake, causing floods, fires, downed trees and massive power outages — damage on a scale that many people said they had never seen in a lifetime of living on Long Island.
“The water just came down the street, rising so fast that it was scary,” said John Parry of Bay Park, who chose to stay in his home with his family. “We could do nothing but watch it, and wait.” High tide at 9:19 p.m. on Monday caused water to rush down streets of Bay Park and East Rockaway that normally don’t flood. “It was ridiculous!” Parry said.
The East Rockaway Fire Department answered dozens of calls that night, one after another, including numerous rescues from flooded homes, a woman in labor near Williamson Street and an elderly man who broke his ribs falling down stairs. A family on Rhame Avenue had to rush to the second floor of their home after the foundation walls of the basement caved in.
The department used its rescue boat, Marine I, as well as two inflatable Zodiac watercraft to go where its fire apparatus could not. “We were loading people on and off the boats and bringing them as far as the ambulance if they need assistance,” said Chief Steven Torborg. He said that for a while, one of the Zodiacs went missing and was incommunicado because the radios on that boat became waterlogged.
The fire headquarters command post had to be moved to higher ground at East Rockaway Village Hall on Atlantic Avenue. The National Guard was called in to assist with rescues in Bay Park.
Even Tuesday morning, as residents, dazed from the hurricane winds thrashing their homes, came out to assess the damage, firefighters were still answering calls about downed power lines and requests for home water rescues. Dozens of trees had fallen across roads in East Rockaway, pulling power and telephone lines down with them.
On Oceanview Road, three large trees came down in a row. In Bay Park, boats had floated down the street, one landing on the doorstep of a home across the street from the Department of Public Works.