In late November of last year I traveled to Roxbury and Breezy Point Queens with my former Village Voice partner in crime Camille Dodero to do a story for Gawker about the hurricane Sandy relief efforts. Only a month after the storm it seemed to us that people had almost forgotten about the complete devastation that occurred just a short drive from Manhattan. The city was without power and there was a lot of damage south of midtown but things were back to normal relatively quickly. I really wanted to see what was happening for myself and Camille and I spent a devastating meeting with survivors and touring wreckage.
For whatever reason the article never ran and these photos just sat on my hard drive. I knew that I wanted people to see these images but part of me wanted to find a better place to publish them than my website, but something happened recently… I had a really bad day. I had a shoot get canceled, lost a $1000 gig, found out the Village Voice was falling apart, found out I was getting paid $400 less than I thought for a previous gig and my favorite hockey team got bounced from the playoffs later that night. During that 24 hours of bullshit for some reason I kept thinking about the people I met when I was in Roxbury and Breezy Point.
I wondered about them and thought about how much worse things could be for me. I also thought about how resilient people are and how even after losing everything people just carried on as best as they could. I met people still living in their flooded, heat free, electricity free shell of a home who just were just thankful their house wasn’t 20 feet closer to the fire that wiped out 111 homes in Breezy Point. In fact everyone I met would point to someone who had it worse.
I did fundraiser through the Dolfans NYC group that I run and I interviewed several members of our group. To a letter each one of them told me their horror stories about flooding and loss of power and then they would point to another Dofans NYC member who had it worse and how they were the lucky ones. I talked to a friend who lost his vacation home and was just happy it wasn’t his actual home. I talked to someone who lost everything on his first two floors who was just happy to still have a home. When I got to Roxbury they just were happy not to be living a mile down the peninsula. I talked to people in Breezy glad to still have a home and I talked to people in Breezy who had nothing who were just glad to be alive. It was crushing and inspiring.
I did a diservice to these people by not publishing these images and I want to apologize and thank them for their time. I especially want to thank the fireman who took us on a tour of Roxbury. It was such a small community and everyone knew everyone so he could point to each house and tell us a story about the people who lived there. Roxbury FD were the first responders in Breezy Point because the Breezy FD had been evacuated.
I am going to split these photos up into two sections. The first section is from Roxbury. The photos include shots from the Breezy Point Co-Op who had organized donations for the community, photos from the Roxbury Fire Department station and our tour of Roxbury. Later this week I will be posting photos from Breezy Point and the heart breaking devastation there.
But remember people still need help. Hurricane Sandy left hundreds of people without homes. If you want to find out how you can help check out the FEMA Sandy Website. And be thankful for your life no matter how bad it gets… humans can endure almost anything. We are amazing creatures.