Freeport, Long Island
On Saturday I went to Freeport, Long Island, a waterfront town just north of Long Beach that was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. You can see the impact here—there are boats in yards and greasemarks marking the floodline five feet high on canalside buildings—but the damage doesn’t, on first glance, compare with that in areas like the Rockaways, Atlantic City, or Long Beach, where cars and houses are buried in sand, the National Guard stands watch from Humvees, and FEMA officers walk around, knocking on doors and conducting household health and wellness checks. In the parking lot of a fishing tackle wholesale store I met Steve Townsend, 62, a Long Island native, lifelong fisherman, and Freeport resident who had agreed to show me around. We went for a walk down Woodcleft Avenue, a stretch of marinas and bars and docking stations, to see his friend Richie, who owns a boat fueling station.
Outside: I heard some of the substations got flooded on the South Shore.
Townsend: We aren’t part of that grid. Freeport generates its own electricity. I mean, we’re on the grid, but we generate our own. But everything got flooded and everything went out. They want to make sure there’s no fires when they turn everything back on.
Your friend owns the bait shop?
No, he’s a wholesale distributor, a fishing tackle distributor. Across the street he has a gift shop. They’re going to take a big loss. Then of course you also have looting at night.
Has that been going on here?
Two days ago I heard the police arrested 15 people. The next night the guy at the end of the block, where we’re going, they broke in and stole money and jewelry. We’ve had patrols here from police and the National Guard. But they can’t be everywhere. Who knows when this is all gonna be put back? It could take months.
What do you do for your profession?
That’s a good profession.
I like it. I used to be with the IRS. There’s a business down here called the Schooner, it’s a restaurant. They’ve been going for years and years. Decades. Who knows if they’ll be coming back? We can see how bad it is when we get down there.
So FEMA hasn’t been going around knocking on doors?
I haven’t seen them. I think they have an office setup somewhere.
Have you been down to Long Beach?
No, I haven’t been down there.