Breezy Point, Queens. November 13th, 2012.

I finally made it out to Breezy Point on Tuesday, which was 15 days after hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast. Although I had seen many photos of the area where over 100 homes burned down from downed power lines and gas leaks, I was unable to grasp the massive devastation until I was standing amidst the ashes and charred metal, and breathing in the air that smelled strongly of burned materials. One can only describe the scene as post-apocalyptic, with blocks of homes now in shambles, and only a few chimneys still standing amongst the rubble:

As I was taking photos of the homes that burned down in Breezy Point, a lady approached me and we started chatting. She ended up telling me that if I walked just down the beach from that area, I would come across multiple homes that were also destroyed during the hurricane. She said that the media has been so focused on the homes that burned down, that many people don’t realize how much destruction there also was in the rest of Breezy Point. I decided to head down that way, and was amazed at what I saw.
Other than the homes that had burned down, this was the most devastation I have seen yet. Many homes had completely collapsed. Others were pushed off of their foundations and shoved up against other homes. I have seen some of this in other areas, but not on as large of a scale as this:

Click here to find out how you can help with Hurricane Sandy relief.

46 replies on “Breezy Point in Ruins

  1. Can I simply say what a comfort to find a person that genuinely knows
    what they’re discussing over the internet.

    You definitely understand how to bring a problem to light and
    make it important. More people ought to read this and understand this side of your story.

    I can’t believe you are not more popular because you surely have the gift.

  2. So sad. It reminds me of the devastation we had in Texas after Rita and Ike. My mother lost her home in Rita, and my sister lost hers in Ike. The media did not cover Rita due to Katrina being fresh in everyone’s mind, and it overshadowed Rita. The devastation with Rita was great as well, but no one seemed to care. We had local charity organizations during spring break that year go to New Orleans rather than the Houston area due to the coverage on Katrina opposed to Rita. I don’t know why Ike was not covered because entire towns where completely gone, more than half of Galveston was wiped away, and many, many, many lives were lost. My mother lost everything she did not lose in Rita. It’s amazing what we don’t see because of what some media exec decides to cover and doesn’t decide to cover.

  3. I’m seeing similar destruction in my town of Sea Bright, NJ, and I thank Jenna for posting these photos. It’s hard for people to understand what some of us have been through. I finally moved back home yesterday, after 25 days in a hotel, and it is eerie to look at piles of debris and try to remember what used to be there. I’ve also been blogging about my experience for anyone who is interested. Thanks, Jenna, for helping others to know…

  4. What really troubles me is that photographer seeks to aestheticize the destruction and tragedy. I personally find it disgusting to hunt for images 15 days after storm passed – and all one has to do is to take 45 min ride from in Manhattan or Brooklyn in the comfort of his/her car to snap these pictures, then spent few hours photoshoping them in his/her comfy apartment with electricity, heat, and running water.

    These pictures telling viewers nothing new. Millions of them have already flooded the media (pan intended) and those above do not add anything noteworthy. They certainly will not make lives of people who once lived in these houses any better nor they bring happy memories. They will not teach anyone that it was short- and long-term human recklessness and silly defiance of nature that brought this destruction.

    Very sad.

    Tear down these pictures, Ms. Jenna Pope

    1. Actually, it’s not as simple or easy as you’re making it seem. For one, I don’t have a car. And I’ve been working 80-100 hour weeks doing this. Taking photos, talking to residents to hear their stories, going through photos at the end of the day, posting them to social media and my blog, helping direct people towards info on how they can donate/volunteer, getting my photos to other websites and blogs who are using them to show people how much destruction and suffering there is here so folks realize how much help we need. In fact, I’ve come across many people who had no idea how bad it was here until they saw my photos, and then donated or volunteered because of it.
      Also, when I talk to those who were affected by the hurricane, they’re extremely grateful that I am out there as a freelance photographer, and they express that they’re unhappy with the media’s response to this. There’s even been times where I’ve put down my camera to help with the clean-up, and residents have actually yelled at me and told me to continue covering it through my photos because they want people to see it.
      So, you can post whatever you want, but when it comes down to it, there ARE people who do not see images like these except from myself and other freelance photographers, and the residents who are suffering are extremely appreciative of my efforts.

      1. Jenna, these are shots which need to be taken and need to be seen! The heartbreaking devastation is real and I know for a fact how much your efforts out there are truly appreciated. Keep up your excellent work!

  5. Reblogged this on Samd432 and commented:
    Really hard hitting imagery, of the very real devastation parts of the world have to face. we should count ourselves lucky if we haven’t had to go through such things

  6. Reblogged this on bearspawprint and commented:
    Where are all the people that used to live here? I read that the section, that also burned, was a neighborhood with many fireman. Ironic and unfair both come to mind. I am sorry for your losses, and those of your neighbors. Granny

  7. My family has homes there and while we were down after the storm I also highlighted the lesser-known impacts on my blog. I believe for every burned home, another was destroyed by the water. It’s devastating.

    Rosemary is spot on with the wagon imagery…it signals a more peaceful time of pulling an over-loaded wagon of kids and towels down to the ocean for a day off in the sun. Nothing symbolizes Breezy more than that.

  8. Since the storm and devastation I’ve done nothing but think, worry and hope for those affected, including the pets and animals. Thanksgiving just won’t be the same for me knowing what it’s like down there…..what people are forced to endure. I have so much in comparison…..

    1. I’m going to encourage folks to turn off their lights and eat Thanksgiving dinner by candlelight in solidarity with the thousands who are still without power. Although it won’t truly help you know what it’s like for people here, but perhaps that’s something you could do in order to feel connected to those here who are still suffering after Hurricane Sandy.

    1. For me the wagon tells a great story. Ever since I can remember Radio Flyers were a part of breezy. Almost all of the homeowners had them, they would use them to wheel their stuff down to the beach often with small children piled on top of beach towels and next to coolers. Very powerful shot.

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