By Jessica Easthope
It’s been a decade, but Marty Ingram can still see it when he closes his eyes. The chaotic scene playing out in front of him, water surging through the doorway of the Point Breeze volunteer firehouse where he was chief, survivors in lifejackets and a firestorm in the sky.
“Going into the clubhouse for civic meetings and occasionally to talk publicly that video tape is running in the back of my head, it’s difficult,” said Marty.
The night hurricane sandy made landfall an electrical fire started in one home and within hours it had spread to 134 others, carried by the storm’s powerful wind. The damage to the Rockaways was already unimaginable for Marty – and now he was fighting the biggest residential fire in Queens history.
“It was truly a combat scene, it was surreal, the wires, the power lines were on fire and it looked like a ruby necklace and if it was a Disney movie it would have been beautiful but this thing was real and it was scary,” he said.
The peaceful peninsula – now a far cry from that moment on October 29, 2012. Since then the Rockaways have been rebuilt; elevated more than 100 homes, undergone beach restoration and erected protective sand dunes, but sometimes Marty says it feels like they’re frozen in time.
“Once the event is finally over, nobody trains you on how to handle it after the fact. Everything resurrected, it brought me back to that moment in time,” Marty said.
Amid the devastation a statue of Mary stood unharmed. Over the years martyr says it’s come to symbolize what he called a miracle.
“With all the people that were down here and all the devastation and destruction, nobody died so as bad as it was it could have been a lot worse, we said our prayers and they were answered.”
The storm couldn’t wash away his faith, just like Breezy Point – it’s been built back stronger.