A year ago this week, after tearing through the Caribbean and up the Eastern Seaboard, Hurricane Sandy made landfall in New Jersey, and worked its way on to New York City and beyond. The storm flooded subways, destroyed homes, knocked out power grids, left at least ninety people dead in New York and New Jersey, and became one of the costliest natural disasters in American history (second only to Katrina). In New York, the storm did extensive damage to the sleepy residential communities of the Rockaways, a thin peninsula that runs along the south shore of Long Island Sound. In a matter of days, thousands of homes were demolished. Residents were displaced, and some have yet to return.
Visiting the Rockaways a day after the storm, Magnum photographer Gilles Peress wrote, “The devastation is on such a scale… that I really have a feeling of having entered another dimension.” This surreal dimension is chronicled in The Rockaways, a new book that includes Peress’s photos alongside essays about Sandy’s impact by local journalists and high school students. Published by the Concord Free Press, the book is indeed free—three thousand copies will be given to bookstores, museums, and readers—though recipients are asked to donate to a Sandy relief foundation. The press will start taking requests for the book on October 30. Until then, here’s a selection of Peress’s photos, all taken in Breezy Point, Queens.