Hamilton Beach gets block-by-block survey

TimesLedger Newspapers
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Photo gallery

Jerry Kissane talks with volunteers who were conducting a survey of Hamilton Beach. Photo by Christina Santucci
Carol Duh, (l.-r.) a medical student and Dr. Manisha Sharma, both with the nonprofit Doctors for America, talk with Hamilton Beach residents Alice Nelson and her daughter Cheryl Nelson during a survey of the Howard Beach neighborhood following Hurricane Sandy. Photo by Christina Santucci
Dinah Gronda points to the water line in her Hamilton Beach home. Photo by Christina Santucci

Volunteers combed through the 450 houses that comprise Hamilton Beach Saturday to take inventory of what residents still needed in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, which inundated the sleepy island near John F. Kennedy International Airport with about 8 feet of water.

The surveyors fanned out from the West Hamilton Beach Volunteer Fire Department building, at the corner of 104th Street and Davenport Court, which acts as the center for the village, doling out supplies and goodwill to anyone who approached.

About 30 volunteers knocked on every door in the neighborhood to find out whose houses were vacant, which had electricity and gas and who was covered under flood insurance. Doctors asked about residents’ health and tended to anyone who needed care.

Dinah Gronda’s family owned her home after her father paid off the mortgage decades ago, and the 34-year-old said she was not able to get flood insurance.

“It hit the entire house — the bedrooms, the kitchen,” said Gronda, who was ripping out the waterlogged wall boards inside the one-story home built on top of a basement.

She and her family do not know what to do, since now they are relying only on the Federal Emergency Management Agency to fund the repairs, and she doubts it will be enough.

She is one of the people who, after the survey, will be high on the list of people to receive help, according to Roger Gendron, president of the New Hamilton Beach Civic Association, who along with the office of state Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach), created the survey.

Gendron had only become president of the civic in February, he said, and was a little daunted when he was thrust into the position of community leader.

“I don’t know how it all got started,” he said Saturday, trying to recall how the building for the local volunteer fire department became the center of the community in the days following the storm.

When the 106th Precinct called the burly electrician and asked what he needed, he requested a car to patrol the neighborhood and bring some sense of calm to the dark streets.

Next he procured a floodlight and it was initially placed in the parking lot of the volunteer fire department, though Gendron later patched the light’s generator to power the fire house.

“It became a warming center,” he said. “This was the place where people could go to feel safe.”

And then, the donations from nearby nonprofits and companies started rolling in.

First it was the office of state Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Ozone Park), who provided 1,000 sandwiches. Then cooks at the Resorts World Casino, where Gendron works as an electrician, came with 70 trays of hot food.

“I didn’t know what to say,” Gendron recalled. “Every time something came in I would get teary-eyed.”

The Kiwanis Club of Glendale held several barbecues in the parking lot of the fire department, which by Saturday was also filled with warm clothes, cleaning supplies and volunteers willing to perform manual labor. The Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, originally from Taiwan, handed out $600 debit cards to residents who applied for them.

Gendron said the Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency were extremely helpful, but in the initial aftermath, when the larger agencies were still creeping into the area, it was the residents of Queens and the rest of New York who make the recovery happen.

“We took care of our own through this whole thing,” he said.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Posted 12:00 am, November 21, 2012
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reader feedback

Mary from Rockaway Bea says:
Glad they're finally getting some help over there. Hi uncle Jerry.
Nov. 24, 2012, 3:49 pm

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.


Do you know an immigrant in Queens who has made an impact on the community? Nominate a person who has made a difference for the 2018 Queens Ambassador Awards.
Community News Group

Don’t miss out!

Stay in touch with the stories people are talking about in your neighborhood:

Optional: Help us tailor our newsletters to you!