Now more than a month after Hurricane Sandy swept through New York City and left its trail of devastation, many neighborhoods have since hummed back into a normal routine. But for the residents in Far Rockaway, Queens, the storm’s aftermath is still a daily reality as folks struggle to rebuild their homes.
With the scars of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina barely healed, no one is better acquainted with long-term disaster recovery – and the importance of good friends, food, and music in the midst of trials – than the residents of New Orleans.
As NOLA city officials witnessed the all-too-familiar scenes of destruction play out on the East Coast, they knew they wanted to help ease the burden of the Hurricane Sandy victims and share the hope of recovery with those who have been most affected by the storm. Through NOLA Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s “New Orleans Pay It Forward” aid program, they reached out to New York Cares to help organize a “Party to Remember” last Saturday at Middle School 53 for hundreds of families and residents in Far Rockaway.
And no one throws a party quite like our friends in The Big Easy. The city of New Orleans brought in some of its finest, award-winning chefs to cook a delicious buffet of Creole and Cajun fare, and the renowned Stooges Brass Band provided live jazz music that sparked nonstop dance parties and at least one conga line. New York Cares recruited volunteers to decorate, serve food, pass out gifts and raffle prizes, and run family-friendly arts and activities.
Mayor Landrieu himself stopped by to personally meet and chat with the locals and even took a spin on the dance floor (Pictured right). Santa Claus also made an appearance to pass along some holiday cheer.
We’d like to offer our sincere gratitude to Mayor Landrieu and the city of New Orleans, the amazing chefs that donated their time and talents, and all the hardworking volunteers that helped make this special and memorable event a reality. You’ve been an incredible encouragement as we face long road to recovery in Far Rockaway, and you’ve inspired us to continue to “pay it forward” to our neighbors here in New York City and beyond!
By Joshua Winata