It's One Year Since Hurricane Sandy; Here's a Look Back at What Happened


Reparing Court Street Grocers in Brooklyn. [Photograph: Chris Crowley]

One year ago today, Hurricane Sandy smashed into the New York area, the worst natural disaster the city has seen in a hundred years.

We survived and recovered because that's what we do. And we did so with a resilience surprising even to those in the thick of the recovery effort. But the consequences of the storm are far-reaching, still playing out, and for many voiceless residents and business owners, recovery never came at all.

Over the past 12 months we've attempted to document the city's reconstruction through the lens of its culinary culture—restaurants bouncing back, food industry workers donating their time and equipment, food lovers giving everything they can. The city has come a long way. Here's a look back at how it got here, and what work remains to be done.

Surveying the Damage

Immediately following the storm, we hit the streets and checked in with restaurants to see the storm's immediate damage.

Rebuilding in the Dark

Mathieu Mixing Dough

Mixing dough in the dark at Motorino. [Photograph: Motorino]

While downtown Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn and the Rockaways were without power, restaurants and food industry workers didn't hesitate to help however they could. For some, that meant providing free meals with food that was about to spoil. Others headed out to the most damaged neighborhoods in the city to feed those in need.

The Long Road to Recovery


Allison Robicelli taking a moment's pause in the recovery effort. [Photograph: Chris Crowley]

Power was restored to Lower Manhattan a week after the storm first hit, a symbolic victory for the recovery effort. But as life started to get back to normal in the heart of the city, its fringes were still hard at work figuring out what "normal" meant.

The Totonno's Saga


[Photograph: Adam Kuban]

In late November, the New York Times reported that Totonno's, perhaps the city's greatest pizzeria, was in danger of closing. Just a few years after a fire ravaged the Coney Island pizzeria's oven, Sandy trashed the restaurant, leaving the owners to rebuild with nothing but faith on their side. In late March the pizzeria reopened to a grateful New York.

Lasting Struggles

The dining room of Governor after the storm. [Photograph: Governor]

Months passed and the storm's most visible damage was repaired. But many food businesses, mired in debt, rubble, and bills they couldn't pay, weren't out of the woodwork just yet.

One Year Later


[Photograph: Chris Crowley]

Over the past few weeks we've revisited restaurants we spoke to earlier to see how they're doing. For most of us, things are finally back to normal. But some are still struggling but see the way out and others have moved on to new horizons, the storm's lasting damage to great to surmount.

For now the story ends here. But the articles above are tiny slices of a much larger, ongoing process that's as much about prevention of the next disaster as recovery from the last one.

What about your story? Where are you now one year later? Let us know in the comments.

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