Long Beach, Long Island, one of the most popular summer spots for the New York Irish from all around the city given its proximity to the Atlantic, and its popular boardwalk and restaurants, not to mention its accessibility via the Long Island Rail Road, was decimated by Hurricane Sandy, and angry residents are frustrated at what they say is a lack of attention from government officials.
Well-known Irish American concert promoter Anita Daly knows all about it. On Monday she spent the afternoon listening to musak on her telephone while she waited on hold to speak to an insurance rep about the damage to her home.
“I am on hold button on speaker with insurance companies with cheesy music on the line,” Daly told the Irish Voice, underlining the exasperation felt by many in her Long Beach community
“We were badly hit by the storm. It is unreal here.”
Unlike many who made the fateful and dangerous decision to stay in their homes and try to weather out the storm, Daly and her partner Jim Leavitt knew that it would be wiser to get out of the area that was predicted to fare particularly badly once the storm hit.
“Thank God we left early that morning,” she says. “Some people had to swim to safety out of their homes to higher houses.”
Leaving her home was hard, but coming back and seeing the damage the storm had done to her property was heartbreaking.
“We lost our whole first floor, furniture, kitchen, clothes, washer and dryer and -- the list goes on,” she says.
What startles Daly now is the jarring lack of federal or disaster agency presence in the neighborhood that’s crying out for help. Where are they now that they’re needed, she wonders?
“Now there are bags of garbage piled six feet high, with refrigerators and stoves on the street. I even saw someone throw out a piano. No one is assisting us out here,” says Daly, promoter of popular acts such as Finbar Furey, the High Kings and the Celtic Tenors.
On her Facebook page, Daly vented her fury at politicians on both sides of the aisle.
“Where has [Mitt] Romney been for the flood victims...actually glad he stayed away -- have not heard one word from him on the state the New York flood victims,” she said.
She also lashed out at New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his initial decision to let the New York Marathon proceed, before canceling the event on Friday evening.
“Our mayor is letting the marathon go ahead while people have no food, shelter, water -- instead people need to go out to Long Beach and Breezy Point and Broad Channel and other places on the shore and volunteer. Bad call. Typical Bloomberg, no clue,” she said.
It’s hard to remain indifferent to what the storm did when the sheer scale of the ruination surrounds Daly on every street.
“Cars are totaled, there are 20 foot boats on the roads and some people have clearly lost everything they own,” Daly adds.
It’s bad enough that she has to contend with the storm’s aftermath in Long Beach, but what makes it worse is the fact that her sister has also been hit hard by the tragedy.
“My sister in Breezy Point had her house lifted and thrown 20 feet,” Daly says.
Luckily she had some options that not everyone in the neighborhood did.
“Well, we spent the whole week sleeping at a friend’s on Long Island who had power. We are the lucky ones,” she adds.
Meanwhile, Daly is spending days on hold with her insurance company.
“I have a bunch of things to take care of today. Eventually we have to have the insurance people come out and inspect the damage, then we have to throw out large furniture and appliances,” she said.
The list of things to do before Daly gets her life back seem daunting, but she knows what the neighborhood needs and passes this information on to anyone interested in helping.
“I think what is most needed out here now is food, water, blankets and beds for people who have nowhere to stay,” she says.