Going Downhill Fast

We in the Mid South know what it is like to go without power for a long period of time. In 1994 we had a February ice storm that devastated the city, leaving thousands freezing and in the dark for weeks. In 2003 we suffered a bow echo that wiped out power to three quarters of the city. My own power was out for eleven days, but many had to withstand 21 days.

So we have plenty of sympathy for our fellow Americans in New York and New Jersey. Like us, another historic event is taking needed attention away from them. In 2003 our power outage hit at the same time Saddam Hussein’s sons were killed. We got almost no coverage. For them, the presidential election is sapping a lot of the attention.

From reports, things are terrible and getting worse. I ran across this report that tells me more than any others I’ve seen. It was on Sipsey Street Irregulars blog.

When night falls in the Rockaways, the hoods come out.

Ever since Sandy strafed the Queens peninsula and tore up the boardwalk, it’s become an often lawless place where cops are even scarcer than electrical power and food. Locals say they are arming themselves with guns, baseball bats, booby traps — even a bow and arrow — to defend against looters.

Thugs have been masquerading as Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) workers, knocking on doors in the dead of night. But locals say the real workers have been nowhere in sight, causing at least one elected official — who fears a descent into anarchy if help doesn’t arrive soon — to call for the city to investigate the utility.

Further exacerbating desperate conditions, it could take at least a month to repair the the bridge that connects the Rockaways to the city subway system, officials said.

“We booby-trapped our door and keep a baseball bat beside our bed,” said Danielle Harris, 34, rummaging through donated supplies as children rode scooters along half-block chunk of the boardwalk that had marooned into the middle of Beach 91st St

.

“We heard gunshots for three nights in a row,” said Harris, who believed they came from the nearby housing projects.

Carly Ruggieri, 27, who lives in water-damaged house on the block, said she barricades her door with a bed frame. “There have been people in power department uniforms knocking on doors and asking if they’re okay, but at midnight.”

And another local surfer said he has knives, a machete and a bow and arrow on the ready. Gunshots and slow-rolling cars have become a common fixture of the night since Hurricane Sandy.

“I would take a looter with a boa.* If I felt threatened I would definitely use it,” said Keone Singlehurst, 42. “Its like the Wild West. A borderline lawless situation.”

City Councilman James Sanders (D-Far Rockaway) said he fears the situation will devolve into anarchy.

“We have an explosive mix here,” said Sanders. “People will take matters into their own hands.”

Walter Meyer, 37, lives in Park Slope but often surfs in the Rockaways. He said it’s not the place it was before the storm.

“After sunset everyone locks their doors,” said Meyer, as he loaded up a solar panel from a factory in the Brooklyn Navy Yard to bring to local residents. “They’re trying to find whatever weapons they can find. Some people are even using bows and arrows.”

Keone Singlehurst, 42, who lives in a bungalow on Beach 87th Street in the Rockaways, says he wouldn’t hesitate to use a bow on a looter.

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