Ken George, 47, a retired Department of Transportation worker, cleared body parts from Ground Zero for six months after 9/11. In the following decade, he suffered from a heart attack, clogged airways, the 9/11 cough, sleep apnea and post-traumatic stress disorder. He requires 32 pills a day – and without the assistance of the Zadroga Bill, he may not be able to afford future treatment.
Only a few days after Sandy terrorized the Eastern Coast and before droves of generous volunteers began their efforts to rebuild the seaboard, the damage done by the hurricane was visible against the landscapes of the region.
Coney Island, in particular, was littered with refuse from the Atlantic: the remnants of people’s homes, lives and everything else that was ripped away from them.The residents of the community painfully packed their drenched belongings on the sidewalks, mattresses, toys and memories, while the boardwalk with its shuttered storefronts was left largely abandoned.
On Friday, business owners and photographic tourists pounced on the historic beachfront to assess the damage. Nathan’s Famous workers swabbed the sidewalk and packed up dozens of bags of rotten food while intrepid shutterbugs mulled over the broken and beaten objects that lined the shore.
Families traversed the beach, stopping at children’s cribs, upturned rowboats and even marooned Jet Skis, to take portraits and document their own experience with the storm. The New York Observer captured this strange moment before the cleaning truly commenced and long after Sandy had passed to find Coney Island perfectly preserved in a moment of chaos and calm.
“The audience is like a dog. They can feel immediately that you are afraid, that you are insecure, that you’re not in the right state of mind – and they just leave…”
Travel photographs of a journey to Europe