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City Marks Year Since Sandy Destruction

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The city and state are marking one year since Hurricane Sandy made landfall, cutting a path of destruction across the five boroughs.

Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered flags at all state buildings to be flown at half staff Tuesday in honor of those who lost their lives in the storm.

He also called for a moment of silence at 8 p.m.

Vigils and memorials were also held around the city.

In Gerritsen Beach, hundreds put their candles together, creating a heart.

Many NY1 spoke with said they're still haunted by memories.

"The water was raging down the street," said Linda Rozzotto, a Gerritsen Beach resident. "I knew that myself and my daughter didn't have the strength to carry the children without losing them to the current of the water. That was the most frightening."

"Water just came thorough the door, and it didn't stop," said Dan Schweit, a Gerritsen Beach resident. "That was the scary part about it. It didn't stop."

In Red Hook, residents shined their lights as a symbolic victory over Sandy's darkness.

"Everything's back online," said Frank Guzman, a Red Hook resident. "Everybody's living their normal lives now. Everybody's acting like how they usually act."

Residents used a vigil in Canarsie to push for more funding, which they say is needed in their area.

"The reason I'm here 'cause I want to tell people that when something happens, there is a future," said Rabbi Yossi Serebryanski, a resident. "It causes people to come together, and we can rebuild in a way that we haven't done before."

In the Rockaways, dozens showed up to the "Light the Shore" vigil to show their resilience.

The residents stood in relative darkness with a bonfire, some candles and flashlights, much like they did the night the storm hit and several days afterwards.

"Just a beam of light that the world sees, and just knowing we're still here," said John Cori of Friends Of Rockaway Beach. "We were in pitch blackness. Just to reminisce what we had, the flashlights and the candles.

"It's starting all over again. It's a new beginning. It's a new start," said Yvette Rosario, a Rockaway Beach resident. "That's how I see it."

Many of the businesses on Beach 116th Street were flooded, but many have rebuilt and reopened with several improvements.

Staten Islanders held a vigil of their own in Midland Beach.

The borough was one of the hardest hit, with 24 deaths blamed on the storm, and survivors paid tribute to those lost.

"There are so many people in need, but so many people have come together, and that's what we commemorate tonight," said the Rev. Terry Troia of Prospect Hospitality.

Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio gave words of encouragement at the vigil, praising members of the community for helping each other recover.

Earlier in the day, Republican mayoral candidate Joseph Lhota stood with Staten Islanders before a march to honor the 24 islanders who lost their lives in the storm.


Earlier in the day, Mayor Michael Bloomberg toured several rebuilding efforts in some of the hardest hit areas.

On Staten Island, he saw storm dunes being built on Crescent Beach Park, designed to help protect shoreline communities from future storm damage.

In the Rockaways, the mayor visited the Jamaica Bay side of the peninsula where workers are constructing tidal gates, which would help prevent future flooding.

The mayor said the city is making progress, while other elected officials are pledging to carry on his work when he leaves office.

"The question on everybody's mind on this first anniversary of Hurricane Sandy obviously is are we better prepared now for storms like Sandy than we were a year ago? And I think the answer is unconditionally yes. You can never do to much. But, we've made an enormous amount of progress," Bloomberg said.

"I guarantee you, Mr. Mayor, that we are going to make sure that we see that the next administration puts into action your proposals. That I make my promise to you on that issue," said State Senator Diane Savino.

Cuomo himself was joined by federal Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan for a tour of Sandy damage that was focused mostly in Lower Manhattan, where many of the state's assets are concentrated, including critical infrastructure for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

"This is a massive undertaking when you think of the subway system alone and trying to close every opening," Cuomo said. "All the tunnels. The Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, the Queens Midtown Tunnel."

Flooding in Lower Manhattan damaged critical assets, including the construction site at the World Trade Center site, where 129 million gallons of water poured in during the storm, and the South Ferry subway station, which is still not open to the public.

Sandy came ashore on October 29, 2012 with strong winds and rain, and a record 13 foot storm surge that flooded many low-lying areas.

The city's death toll stands at 44.

The storm destroyed thousands of homes and caused billions of dollars in damage.

Many houses had to be demolished, and many New Yorkers found themselves displaced for months.

Sandy also led to a massive fire in the Breezy Point section of Queens that destroyed dozens of houses.

Floodwaters forced the fire department to use boats to make rescues.

The storm knocked out power to many parts of the city for days.

It caused an explosion at Con Edison's power facility on East 14th Street, plunging nearly all of Manhattan south of 34th Street into darkness.

Sandy flooded subway tunnels and stations, along with the Hugh Carey-Brooklyn Battery Tunnel and the Queens Midtown tunnel, causing extensive damage.

It forced the transit system, city schools, and the New York Stock Exchange to close for several days.

City officials want to remind those affected by the storm to sign up for aid via the city's "Build it Back" program.

The deadline is this Thursday.

For more information, visit nyc.gov/builditback.

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