Orchard Beach in the Bronx is once again open after parts of it were damaged by Hurricane Sandy, welcome news to the people who use the park every day. NY1's Erin Clarke filed the following report.
Lillie Torres enjoyed a game of paddleball Wednesday with friends at Orchard Beach Park. She couldn't do that a couple of weeks ago after Hurricane Sandy had wreaked havoc on the park.
"All the trees were knocked down," Torres said. "They just were uprooted from their roots Also, the pavement from the boardwalk, the brick or whatever it is, was all out. It was flooded. Sand was in the courts."
It was devastating for the people who use the park daily. Many of them are retirees who come out for exercise and to socialize.
"I come almost every day for my walking," said Bruce Burgeson, a Mount Vernon resident. "We have a retiree group here. We meet. We have parties. There's an art group here."
They've formed a community and Orchard Beach is their meeting spot. Like any good community members, they take care about their surroundings. So when the park was closed because of the damage, it was a huge blow.
"I was really heartbroken because 60 trees were down," said Yolanda Cirulli, a City Island resident. "It was devastating."
In the meantime, the group found other places to work out, but they longed for their favorite place by the water. Two weeks ago, the park reopened.
Folks that use the park said they're glad that the city realized how important Orchard Beach is to the community, and they're pleased with the city's response following Hurricane Sandy.
Today, you wouldn't be able to tell that Orchard Beach was ravaged by Sandy. Little, if any, sign of the storm still remains.
"The parks department has done a great job cleaning up, and I'm very thankful for that," Burgeson said.
So it's back to swatting the ball at the wall for Lillie, her friends and others who frequent Orchard Beach.