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.”
“If you are heeding into the Rockaway beach to assist, there is a request for firearms, hot food, and cold beer. These next 24 hours are critical for these folks, the government has really let them down,” Meyer posted on Facebook Thursday.
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A woman finds her Breezy Point neighborhood laid to waste on Wednesday.
Over at the Rockaway Beach Surf Club on Beach 87th St, volunteers cleaned up the storm debris and collected donated food and water for the survivors.
“We’re just trying to clean everything so we can get supplies to people who need them,” said Bradach Walsh, 39, who is a city firefighter who founded the Surf Club. “All our friends’ houses and cars are destroyed.”
Further east in the Rockaways, hunger stalked the community as angry residents lined up for food deliveries and complained they were being abandoned.
Good Samaritans had set up makeshift food throughout the peninsula Friday, grilling food and passing out water, while the Red Cross and FEMA was nowhere in sight.
“We having nothing,” said Ann Manning, at an Edgemere playground where State Sen. Malcolm Smith had arranged to distribute thousands of lunch boxes from a company that supplies airports.
“We have nothing. They’re hungry,” said Manning.
Grocery stores on the Peninsula are closed and some have been looted.
“We can’t exist,” said Manning. “We can’t buy milk. We can’t buy cereal. We can’t buy nothing.”
Shaheem Bush, 23, said there’s several hungry mouths in his darkened apartment in Far Rockaway.
“It’s cold in the house, no lights on,” he said. “Everything’s closed because people were stealing from stores. There’s no food. People are cooking on top of garbage cans.”
LIPA which supplies power to the entire peninsula, inspected the area Thursday.
“LIPA should be brought up on charges,” said Sanders, a Democrat, slamming the utility for taking so long to assess the damage at one of the most hurricane-ravaged areas of the city.
“LIPA has failed the people of the Rockaways,” he said. “It’s a question of class … serving the richer areas of Long Island and ignoring the Rockaways.”
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Residents returned to Breezy Point, Queens, to grieve and collect belongings from their decimated homes.
Sanders said he has been calling LIPA’s office four times a day with no response. He wants City Council to investigate them.
Meanwhile, he said, crooks are taking advantage of the chaos.
“There’s been sporadic looting and a couple push-in robberies,” he said. “No one is directing traffic. After night, you drive at your own risk.”
Out on Breezy Point, the air still reeked of gas, smoke and rot. And an invasion of insurance adjusters, some of whom came from as far away as Texas, was underway.
Pat Doyle, a 60-year-old court officer from Mineola, L.I., whose summer home in Breezy Point was flooded, said his family also owns another house nearby which burned down.
“A lot of people don’t have flood insurance,” he said. “It’s too high.”
Still, said Doyle, it could have been worse.
“We’re all pitching in and doing what we can do for each other,” he said. “That’s the kind of neighborhood we are down here. The neighbors will be chipping in good sums of money, labor and food. Whatever it takes.”
ANTHONY DELMUNDO FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
The bridge where the A train goes through to cross into the Rockaways will be closed for a while.
Making matters worse, the A Train crossing over Jamaica Bay, south of the Howard Beach station, was decimated, officials said.
The MTA took all trains off the Rockaway peninsula prior to the storm to prevent damage to the equipment. The MTA now can’t even run the Rockaway shuttle on the peninsula because there are no trains, one official said. There is also no shuttle bus service.
“You have half a million people disconnected from the city,” said Meyer.
“Rockaways always gets left over,” he said. “It’s treated like a marginalized land in the city.”
With Pete Donohue