The Broad Channel One Year After Sandy.

The weather’s been up and down in Gotham. Nearly 60 degrees one day and then freezing the next. Several days ago we had a glorious day and I decided to take a drive to the Broad Channel for a look-see.

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This might just be the most peculiar neighborhood in Queens, and not just because it sits smack in the middle of the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, surrounded by water on all sides. It’s connected to the rest of the borough by two bridges and one subway. The bridges offer magnificent views of the bay.  The entire community is about twenty blocks long from north-to-south and four blocks wide from east-to-west. Man-made canals have been dug which separate the dead-end residential streets. Residents tend to love their boats and many have them moored in the canals.

 

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Broad Channel’s mostly middle-class residents tend to be stalwart and have made a definite commitment to live here. There is no natural gas line running into the community which forces home owners to use more costly propane to heat their houses and to cook in their kitchens. With water everywhere the eye can see, as might be supposed this is an area prone to flooding.

It goes without saying Broad Channel was hit hard by Super Storm Sandy. Most of the residents have pretty much recovered. Life seems to be bustling. Stores and restaurants are open and doing business. The outside of homes in most of the community are in good shape. I did see one man with the outside of his house in tact, carrying lumber into the interior. I saw renovated houses with debris in the back yards.

 

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Some residents have not fared so well. Either they didn’t have the financial resources to rebuild so quickly, or the damage to their homes was too extensive. Still, all of the houses I saw needing repair had permits nailed to the outside and their owners were doing their level best to bring them back.

 

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Not everyone seemed happy with the government’s efforts to help the community. Several homes had “STOP FEMA NOW” signs prominently displayed in their front windows.

 

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Residents are outraged by the new federal law, the Biggert-Waters Act which astronomically raises flood insurance rates for the purpose of keeping FEMA afloat. However, FEMA was supposed to do a feasibility study that was never done and the fed seems to be cherry picking how they will implement the law.

This tempest in a teapot goes far beyond the Broad Channel with senators from Massachusetts, Oregon, and Louisiana vociferously questioning FEMA.

The larger question seems to me to be should a politician be held to promises made before an election? Many who are in the political game as a career believe politicians who tell the truth do not get elected or re-elected. When do the American people want to hear the truth: before or after an election? Before or after a crisis? Eventually the truth will come out. Your elected official isn’t gonna do what was promised. When that happens why not throw the bum out. And here’s a novel idea: don’t vote for the guy who promises pie in the sky. Vote for the realist. Look for a candidate with a record of success in government, business. Vote for a candidate whose word is good.

However the debate on Biggert-Waters turns out, the fact remains that one year after Sandy, residents of New York City who were most hit are still struggling. The federal government promised the sun, moon, and the sky prior to the presidential election, which they obviously have not delivered. The Red Cross pulled out long ago. Now it’s mostly neighbor helping neighbor. Local churches and the Salvation Army have been at the forefront.

If you want to help contact…

Occupy Sandy. This was the name given to the recovery effort in its first days and it now has a website. http://occupysandy.net/

The Salvation Army New York City still has boots on the ground. http://www.use.salvationarmy.org/use/www_use_GNYD.nsf/vw-dynamic-index/7E58E6D68DAB0CA0852579AC00520BEA?openDocument

SOUTHERN SUPERSTITIONS by BJ Robinson on the Grace Awards Launch

Southern Superstitions

Barbara and I go way back. We write for the same publishing house, Desert Breeze Publishing. So when she told me how thrilled she was to be part of the Grace Awards Launch, I couldn’t help but do a happy dance. SOUTHERN SUPERSTITIONS, a romantic suspense, is one of her favs out of the novels she’s written. That’s because it was developed from a first-prize-winning short story she wrote in her creative-writing class at Southeastern Louisiana University many years ago. The short story was published in Gambit, the university’s literary magazine.

 

Here’s one of Barbara’s favorite lines from the story…

It was faith in God that would bring her husband home. Even a lucky penny or a dime declared, In God we trust.

 

Now let’s find out a little about this story…

Magnolia June Russell is a small-town Louisiana strawberry farmer determined to have a career besides the berry farm, despite her mother’s advice that she doesn’t need more education to run a farm.

Andy Allen is a strawberry inspector at the local bureau. He has to convince June’s mother that he can be the son she’s never had, since she’s decided a local strawberry inspector isn’t good enough for her daughter. Andy is going to have to change her mother’s mind in more ways than one if their relationship is to survive. Can he persuade June that there is more to their relationship than friends?

Together, they both face the issue of superstitions, an April flood, and conflict after conflict. Will they ever convince Miss. Myrtle to let go of superstitions, or will she stubbornly cling to them just like she vows she’ll never fly on those big-winged mechanical birds because man ain’t got no business messing with God’s plans?

Can love survive the obstacle course placed in their path–an accident, escaped convicts, Andy missing in a Louisiana swamp? Can two determined young people overcome each obstacle with belief, faith, hard work and the power of prayer?

 

Endorsement:

SOUTHERN SUPERSTITIONS is an inspirational story that’s full of personality as well as intricacy in the way it explores the complexities of family life and the conflict between faith and luck. Barbara does a great job of pulling together the deeply rooted superstitions of the South and entwining them into a suspenseful tale of faith, romance, and endurance. I especially enjoyed the setting and the culture of the deep South. ~ Shawna K. Williams, author of NO OTHER and IN ALL THINGS.

*****

One of the best ways to whet your appetite for a story is to read an excerpt…

Rod joined the search party to help investigate his dad’s disappearance. It’d disbanded at nightfall and picked up the search again at daybreak, but they’d found no sign of his dad. Rod guided a canoe deep into the marshes and swamps. He’d hunted with his father many times in these wetlands so he knew where to check. No word or sign of his father made the cold, Christmas season stab like an ice pick, and his heart ached for his mother, left alone.

He slid the canoe through a wall of cypress trees, deeper and deeper into the heart of the swamp. He figured his father headed for the hills. White cranes flew from the cypress limbs. The canoe hit a cypress knee, and Rod gently eased it around a few more. The way they stuck out of the shallow water, like protruding nubs, they reminded him of his grandmother’s warning finger wagging in his face. They could tear a hole in the bottom of a boat. Thank God my boat survived the lick. Maybe that’s what happened to Dad.

Finally, after twelve hours of searching, Rod spotted his dad’s pirogue on the side of the hill, where they’d hunted the previous year. He tied his canoe to a tree limb. “Dad!” He raced to the dome tent and unzipped the door. “Dad?” The tent looked as if his dad made camp, but hadn’t yet used it. The sleeping bag was still rolled up in a corner. The butt of his dad’s 30-30 stuck out from under a sleeping bag. The supplies were still there. Outside, there was no sign of a campfire. It looked as though he never got to hunt. There was no sign of him. Where was he?

Rod picked up the rifle and carried it back to his canoe. He left the other items in case his dad returned looking for them.

They searched until dark. Rod dreaded giving his mother the disappointing news. She’d worry even more, because the pirogue was in perfect condition and so was the tent. No leaking pirogue kept him from coming home. The campsite looked peaceful and serene, not like anything bad had happened, but still there was no sign of his father.

Mom’s on pins and needles, yet she clings to her faith and trust in God. I hear her faithfully pray for Dad’s safe return. Maybe she won’t fall apart when she hears the news but oh, how I dread having to tell her.

 

Purchase Links:

Amazon/Kindle. http://amzn.to

Barnes & Noble/Nook. http://bit.ly/17Yd7W0

 

Author Bio:

B. J. Robinson, an award-winning, multi-published author, writes inspirational southern-fried romantic suspense from Florida, where she lives with her husband, a cat named Frankie, a cocker spaniel named Sunflower, and a golden retriever named Honi. She developed her love for mystery through Nancy Drew books, her love for reading from her mother, who read fairytales to her before she began school, and her fifth grade teacher, who read the entire Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House series to the class. She promises to take her readers on a continuous journey to another world. Reading and writing are her passions, and Jesus is her best friend.

BJ's Books on a Rocker