This is a story of rebirth and heartache in one community with contrasting images almost seven months after it was ravaged by superstorm Sandy.
The Olympic-size pool is now filled with water, new cabanas have replaced the 100 or so swept away by Sandy. Crews are working feverishly to have the thousand member club up and running for the unofficial start of summer this weekend.
The colorfully striped beach-side cabanas form a backdrop for quite a different picture just down the street where the destruction from the storm is dramatically evident. 47 homes in the close-knit, gated community were severely damaged — nine had to be knocked down — after a 30 foot wave swept over the bulkhead.
Lou Rosen lost his home and four cars and at 56, he says he’s starting all over again and has no time to think about summer relaxation. He told PIX11 News, “There’s no summer for us. We lost everything in five minutes and it’s a slow process trying to put everything back together.”
At the beach club, the Tiki Bar is getting a fresh coat of paint, tables and chairs are getting power-washed, new cushions are being placed on lounges. In contrast, chaise lounges lay amidst, twisted debris just a short dissonance away.
Manny Papir, who is the disaster relief coordinator for Coney Island and Sea Gate says people are frustrated the recovery process is taking so long.
Sal Argano, manager of the Sea Gate Beach Club has no reservations about opening the beach club so close to so many reminders of heartache and losses suffered by so many in the small community. He says many of the club’s members are victims of the storm. Residents of the community I spoke with said they had no qualms about the beach club re-opening while so many others are still struggling.
One homeowner sees it as a positive thing, somewhat of a rebirth after a storm that hurt so many.