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Rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy is NYC’s Real Marathon This Year

By Isabel Kallman

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Mayor Bloomberg cancelled the NYC marathon and instead marathoners visited hard hit areas to help clean-up. Many New Yorkers and neighbors from NJ and Connecticut joined them in the weeks that followed.

hurricane sandy 1

Rockaway Beach after Hurricane Sandy

I wasn’t planning on running the NYC marathon, but have come to see the Hurricane Sandy rebuilding efforts as NYC’s real marathon this year. Along with friends I did as much as I could. I tried to help with cleanup in the Rockaways. With my sister, I delivered donations– that poured in from online friends from around the country– to relief centers in Staten Island. My friend Jessica Shyba and I also delivered donations to Staten Island and then finally Coney Island, where I had spent many summer days as a young girl growing up in Brooklyn.

nathans in coney island after hurricane sandy

I’ll always remember the sense of relief when I saw Coney Island’s boardwalk again that November afternoon. I was scared that it had washed away, like so much of the Rockaway Beach’s boardwalk. Yes, of course it could be rebuilt, but the Coney Island boardwalk had been such an early memory of my three-year old mind that its loss would hurt. I was so grateful it was still there.

coney island after hurricane sandy

Coney Island boardwalk after Hurricane Sandy

I didn’t write much about my visits to the hurricane-affected areas because my contributions were so small compared to what many others were doing. However, what I have since come to realize and learn is that if we all do a little, together we can move the needle and make what at least feels like a noticeable difference for the better amongst so much destruction.

So, I am eager to help Parents Magazine and its owner, The Meredith Corporation, rebuild some homes in Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn. It’s a small seaside community where 75% of the homes were unexpectedly flooded during Hurricane Sandy (the area was originally Zone B and thus wasn’t evacuated). Gerritsen Beach can be described as a tight-knit multi-generational family community with some residents living there 50 or more years. Gerritsen Beach had never experienced flooding that reached as high as 6 feet in the basements or first floors of their homes and along with it destroying the most cherished belongings of its residents. I feel so fortunate that I can go back to my hometown of Brooklyn and do a little bit more to help.

with sarah bryden-brown at gerritsen-beach

with Sarah Bryden-Brown of GoMighty speaking to local Gerritsen Beach resident Jimmy

Along with my friend Sarah Bryden-Brown of GoMighty and the editors of Meredith’s magazines, we visited some of the homes and properties we will help to restore on June 6. Now, there’s going to be a whole team of helpers on June 6th.

One special area that I hope to help restore is Kiddie Beach. It’s a small beach area along the Plum Beach Channel that serves as a gathering area for the Gerritsen Beach community. It’s where Gerritsen neighbors– especially the kids and families– gather during summer nights and hang out. There’s a basketball court, a playground and a small stage where the kids put on their shows– all of which needs to be refurbished. Originally, the community wasn’t expecting Kiddie Beach to be open this summer season. Coney Island is my Kiddie Beach and I would love for it to be available and safe for the kids this summer.

kiddie beach before hurricane sandy by

Kiddie Beach before Hurricane Sandy

kiddie beach gerritsen after hurricane sandy

Kiddie Beach after Hurricane Sandy

Remember the theory I’ve embraced? If lots of us can do a little bit, we can move the needle. That’s the goal here. There will be hundreds of volunteers from Rebuilding Together and the Meredith Corporation. Together with the members of the Gerritsen Beach community we hope to help finish a process that first began with a tremendous clean-up effort back in early November.

I’ve never had any desire to lace up sneakers and run in a marathon, but if helping to rebuild is NYC’s marathon, then it’s one I’ll always sign up. I love this city so hard.

Photo credits: top photo by Adrian Kinloch and Kiddie Beach Before by

Isabel Kallman
About the Author

Isabel Kallman

Isabel Kallman is the founding mom of

Feel free to send nice emails to isabel[at]alphamom[dot]com.


Isabel Kallman is the founding mom of

Feel free to send nice emails to isabel[at]alphamom[dot]com.

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