Many residents of Broad Channel and Hamilton Beach have lost everything as a result of superstorm Sandy.
Francis Seim braved the storm in a neighbor’s home in Broad Channel, while his family spent the night in Rockaway. He headed to his house on 10th Road at about 3 a.m. Tuesday and found a neighbor’s deck in the street in front of his home and everything inside ruined.
“I was devastated. I have really nowhere to live. My wife, my son, I don’t know where we are going after this,” Seim said, as he picked through water-soaked belongings Tuesday afternoon before he planned to bring supplies to his relatives in Rockaway.
Several blocks away, Ginger and Tom Brauner marveled at the debris, which included most of a wooden bridge that connected the island with several bungalows on stilts, one of which they own.
“It’s like a bomb went off,” said Ginger Brauner, who traveled to Broad Channel from Long Island to check on her summer home. Her home, which was originally built in 1904, is only accessible by the wooden bridge on East 12th Road. Most of it was strewn across several backyards.
The Brauners’ home was still standing, albeit with damage to the deck and exterior. However, half of another bungalow hung precariously above the water. The rest had fallen off into Jamaica Bay, residents said.
Debris and remnants of flooding were visible on nearly every block in Broad Channel, and a powerful stench of gasoline and home heating oil permeated the air. On Channel Road, the North Channel Yacht Club’s shed collapsed into the street, which was impassable by car because of the debris. Among items on the ground were a bottle of whiskey and a dead cat.
Large boats had floated into Cross Bay Boulevard, the fronts of homes and backyards.
In Hamilton Beach, a neighborhood of Howard Beach, residents estimated that the water surged between six and 10 feet.
Christine Kilkenny said she called the cell phone of a West Hamilton Beach Volunteer Fire Department to rescue her after water filled her entire first floor. Responders told her they weren’t able to get to her because they themselves were trapped in the firehouse with six feet of water outside.
Kilkenny said her home had been affected during Tropical Storm Irene, but this storm was much worse.
“This year I really lost everything,” she said.
West Hamilton Beach’s Deputy Chief Daniel Amorim said all of the firehouse’s vehicles were destroyed in the storm, except for one ambulance. In addition, the personal cars of many of the volunteers were wrecked after they parked them in the Walbaum’s lot in Howard Beach, which was flooded.
Amorim and fellow volunteers were surveying the damage Tuesday afternoon as about a dozen FEMA workers from Massachusetts walked along 104th Street.
Maria Martinez, whose house looks out onto Jamaica Bay, pointed out that her deck had shifted in the storm and piles of debris filled her yard. In addition, one chicken and two ducks had died.
She said she found the remaining members of her flock six blocks away.
Reach photo editor Christina Santucci by e-mail at timesledge
©2012 Community News Group
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