Evidence of Hurricane Sandy’s wrath are still prevalent all over southern Queens, even nearly four months later.
In few places are the scars of Sandy more visible than along Cross Bay Boulevard in Broad Channel. There, debris and garbage lay strewn in the brush and along the sidewalks and curb.
Though this section of Cross Bay Boulevard was not hit as hard by the floodwater as others, the surge did leave behind trash and debris from the nearby residential part of Broad Channel.
Cleaning up the mile-long stretch of Cross Bay Boulevard between the Joseph P. Addabbo Bridge and the neighborhood of Broad Channel seems like an impossible task. There’s also a question over whose domain it is. The road is city land, but the green space surrounding it is part of the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge — operated by the National Park Service, a federal agency.
Now, The Doe Fund, a nonprofit group focusing on helping homeless and formerly incarcerated individuals, headed by declared GOP mayoral candidate George McDonald, has poured its resources into cleaning up a 1.2-mile, mostly undeveloped, stretch of Cross Bay Boulevard between the Addabbo Bridge, which connects the island that is home to Broad Channel to Howard Beach, and the American Legion Hall — the gateway to the small neighborhood.
Starting Friday, crews from The Doe Fund, homeless men and women looking to get back on their feet, took to the sides of Cross Bay Boulevard in their signature blue jackets, cleaning empty bottles, pieces of wood, paper, plastic bags and other trash, much of which were left behind by Sandy’s storm surge in October or have been collecting along the side of the road since.
“For the past 25 years, New Yorkers have been so generous to The Doe Fund and to the ‘Men in Blue’—helping them to re-establish their careers and become fathers to their children,” McDonald said at a press conference with Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park), Community Board 14 chairwoman Dolores Orr and crew members who began cleaning the street on Friday.“We are thrilled to be able to give back.”
The crews, made up of homeless or formerly incarcerated individuals taking part in a nine-to-12 month transitional program that aims to help them get a full-time job, began cleaning the northbound side of Cross Bay last Friday afternoon. By the end of the day, they had completely cleaned a stretch of road near the southern end of East Pond and hauled away dozens of trash bags full of debris.
Broad Channel was not the first stop for the Men in Blue during the recovery from Sandy. The Doe Fund has sent crews to Staten Island, Coney Island and parts of the Rockaways, where Orr said the group has helped clean Beach 116th Street, Rockaway Park’s main commercial strip, which was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy’s storm surge.
“They were there assisting us early in the recovery,” she said.
Ulrich thanked McDonald for this help and noted The Doe Fund’s mission in helping homeless people get off the streets.
“This will not only remove all of the trash and debris that accumulated during and after the storm but will also assist our fellow New Yorkers who are trying to re-establish self-sufficiency through employment and opportunity,” he said.
Ulrich added cleaning the strip is will give local civics and other groups a leg up in keeping the notoriously dirty route clean.
“Regular maintenance won’t seem too daunting,” he said.
Weather permitting, the crews will finish cleaning the strip in a few weeks.