Queens Residents Arm Themselves in the Post-Storm Blackout from Looters

Clare Trapasso et al., NY Daily News, November 2, 2012

When night falls in the Rockaways, the hoods come out.

Ever since Sandy strafed the Queens peninsula and tore up the boardwalk, it’s become an often lawless place where cops are even scarcer than electrical power and food. Locals say they are arming themselves with guns, baseball bats, booby traps—even a bow and arrow—to defend against looters.

Thugs have been masquerading as Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) workers, knocking on doors in the dead of night. But locals say the real workers have been nowhere in sight, causing at least one elected official—who fears a descent into anarchy if help doesn’t arrive soon—to call for the city to investigate the utility.

Further exacerbating desperate conditions, it could take at least a month to repair the bridge that connects the Rockaways to the city subway system, officials said.

“We booby-trapped our door and keep a baseball bat beside our bed,” said Danielle Harris, 34, rummaging through donated supplies as children rode scooters along half-block chunk of the boardwalk that had marooned into the middle of Beach 91st St.

“We heard gunshots for three nights in a row,” said Harris, who believed they came from the nearby housing projects.

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And another local surfer said he has knives, a machete and a bow and arrow on the ready. Gunshots and slow-rolling cars have become a common fixture of the night since Hurricane Sandy.

“I would take a looter with a boa. If I felt threatened I would definitely use it,” said Keone Singlehurst, 42. “Its like the Wild West. A borderline lawless situation.”

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Further east in the Rockaways, hunger stalked the community as angry residents lined up for food deliveries and complained they were being abandoned.

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Grocery stores on the Peninsula are closed and some have been looted.

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Shaheem Bush, 23, said there’s several hungry mouths in his darkened apartment in Far Rockaway.

“It’s cold in the house, no lights on,” he said. “Everything’s closed because people were stealing from stores. There’s no food. People are cooking on top of garbage cans.”

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Making matters worse, the A Train crossing over Jamaica Bay, south of the Howard Beach station, was decimated, officials said.

The MTA took all trains off the Rockaway peninsula prior to the storm to prevent damage to the equipment. The MTA now can’t even run the Rockaway shuttle on the peninsula because there are no trains, one official said. There is also no shuttle bus service.

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