Today Show: Rockaway Beach Hurricane Sandy Recovery
Because it is the six month anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, the Today Show spotlighted a town called Rockaway Beach in New York, which is still recovering from the tragedy. Steve Stathis, president of The Graybeards, a charity formed in Rockaway Beach in the wake of September 11, 2001, talked to Willie Geist about the recovery. Rockaway Beach lost over 70 people on September 11 and the following month, a plane crashed in the town, killing five residents and hundreds of people on board. Sandy killed eight people, but Steve Stathis said that with the devastation, he was thankful it wasn’t more.
When Willie Geist asked him how they deal with the tragedy, Steve Stathis laughed. But not because anything was funny – it was more like the kind of laugh that said he had no idea how to answer that question, or maybe that there was no way to answer it.
He said that things in the area are “nowhere near normal.” He said that when you drive down the street, it may appear that things are normal, but down every side street there are construction vehicles and repair crews. He said that everyone is trying to fix their homes, whether it’s the interior or the exterior. The beachfront is still devastated.
“We need people not to forget us,” Steve Stathis said. He said that they haven’t had as much support as they used to and they really need the money to help with recovery.
Steve Stathis: The Graybeards
The Graybeards are what Steve Stathis called a “group of guys” loosely connected by their love of basketball who formed a non-profit. Their mission statement is to help their neighbors in their time of need. Prior to Hurricane Sandy, they helped lots of families. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, they were able to raise $1 million for recovery efforts. Steve Stathis said that pretty much everyone in the community could use the money. He said they prioritized the elderly, the handicapped and people who were in need more need than others. He said they met as a board and decided weekly who would get a grant.