On Sunday morning a friend and I packed our beach bags and traveled out to Far Rockaway for the day. After a few days of rain we were relieved to see the sun shining and were hoping to enjoy a day at the beach. I love going to the beach and since the Atlantic Ocean is a quick subway ride away I spend a lot of time here in the summer.
Upon arrival in Far Rockaway from the A train stop we did notice the devastation of Hurricane Sandy is still very evident in this area. The boardwalk is still under heavy construction and some of the beach is not accessible. Some of the bathrooms and concession stands are still being repaired.
I did read in one article that the beach repair has been quite complex and costing $270 million. Almost 430,000 tons of debris had to be removed after the hurricane damage before construction could begin. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers placed four and a half million cubic yards of new sand on the beach. Hundreds of independent contractors were hired to work day and night, and the Parks Department had to hire 1,000 extra employees and used 8,000 volunteers. The entire project has been non-stop for less than 5 months which is a record time.
I noticed a few new signage on the beach designed by a Graphic Design Studio in Manhattan called Pentagram that clearly marks the beach areas and some have warnings about dangerous ocean tides. I read that 35 lifeguard stations have been built and extra lifeguards were out on full watch. I did get a chance to talk to Park Security as well which I had never seen at the beach before. They have been out since the beach reopened to monitor conditions and the safety of the beach-goers.
Even though we arrived early the beach was getting crowded and it was nice to see everyone enjoying themselves on this beach once again.
Afterwards, we decided to search for a place to eat and unfortunately had to walk a few blocks on Rockaway Beach Boulevard before we found an open establishment. Most of businesses are still boarded up, damaged and empty. The narrow streets were lined with construction equipment making it hard for cars to drive through.
Our search brought us to the famous taco stand and it was great to see business was flourishing with a hour long wait for delicious tacos so we opted to walk back down to Elegante Restaurant and Pizzeria. We ordered a chicken parmigiana which was large enough for both of us to share and it was worth raving about the entire ride home! It was the best marinara sauce I’ve ever had! We had a moment to talk to the Co-Owner, Frank Amato and our waitress about their struggle to rebuild the restaurant after Hurricane Sandy. Unfortunately they are still waiting for relief aid and had to take a huge financial risk to reopen their business by maxing out credit cards and loans. I think the entire community is glad they reopened because we heard that Elegante Restaurant and Pizzeria has the best pizza in town! We were treated like family from the moment we walked in the door and we wish them all the best and we will visit next time we go to the beach!